You have probably noticed that the University looks very different from when you left last fall. A number of construction projects have commenced all over campus. Whenever we have growth, it is an opportunity to create a better educational experience for our students by providing more academic offerings, more housing options and better services. However, this also creates a conflict with our natural resources. It’s very easy to look at the trees coming down and assume that no consideration was given for their value. But that would be a mistake as the decision to expand included assessing our impact on our environment.
Our campus has a monoculture of trees. This achieved a certain aesthetic appeal that was desired when the campus was built but is not a sustainable way of landscaping. This is due to the fact that if one tree becomes diseased, it will pass this onto the remaining trees. We are witnessing this very event with our trees on campus. A landscape architect, as part of a larger landscaping master plan, had recently inventoried every single tree on campus and rated its condition. The conclusion? Over 70% of our evergreen trees have diplodia, a terminal illness. Many of the trees that are currently being taken down are included in this statistic.
So what are we doing with the trees? Given our concerns with emissions associated with wood burning, especially the fly ash produced, we decided to have the trees chipped to be used for bedding or landscaping. In addition, for every tree that is taken down for certain projects, like the work around Collins Circle, 1.5 trees will be replanted and in a biodiverse manner.
As you see the construction progress, please keep in mind that the effect on our natural resources play a role in our planning and we strive to create a landscape that will be more environmentally sustainable than previously.
Mary Ellen Mallia
Director of Environmental Sustainability