Duke Honored For Campus Tree Programs

Arbor Day Foundation names Duke a 'Tree Campus USA'

A Facilities Management crew plants new trees by the Allen Building in 2011. The planting was part of Duke's ongoing tree-care plan. Photo by Duke Photography.

For the fourth consecutive year, Duke has been recognized as one of the tree-friendliest campuses in the country.

The Arbor Day Foundation named Duke a "Tree Campus USA" site, a distinction held since the award started in 2008. Duke is among 116 colleges and universities nationwide named to the 2011 list that includes a total of five North Carolina colleges.

"On our campus, our trees are an asset to us," said Roger Conner, superintendent for Duke Grounds. "It's good to know the Arbor Day Foundation supports what we do because if we're doing the right things for our trees, we're also doing the right thing for the environment and the university."

Tree Campus USA schools are selected by the Arbor Day Foundation for promoting healthy management of campus forests and engaging the community in environmental stewardship. A plaque honoring Duke's listing as a Tree Campus USA sits in a display case by Bay 2 in the Smith Warehouse.

In addition to hundreds of new and decade-old trees on its East, West and Central campuses, Duke also features 7,060 acres of land in Alamance, Durham and Orange counties as part of Duke Forest.

To receive its Tree Campus USA recognition, Duke met five standards of tree care and community engagement: establish a campus tree advisory committee, create a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body, dedicated spending on a campus tree-care plan, involvement in an Arbor Day observance and evidence of a campus tree-care plan.

Conner said that as part of meeting the Arbor Day Foundation standards, Duke has been active since December in updating its inventory of trees. For the past few months, Facilities Management has been using "i-Tree ," a free software tool that allows users to maintain detailed information about trees, including location, size, condition, and estimates of overall value in sequestering carbon emissions. About 1,200 trees from East and West campuses have been entered into the i-Tree program.

Facilities has also been active in replacing decaying trees and will hold its biannual tree planting event in early April with the help of student groups.

"Students throughout the country are passionate about sustainability and community improvement, which makes Duke University's emphasis on well-maintained and healthy trees so important," said John Rosenow , chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "By achieving Tree Campus USA recognition for the fourth year in a row, Duke will continue to set an example for other colleges and universities and give students a chance to give back to both their campus community and the community at-large."

The Arbor Day Foundation launched Tree Campus USA in 2008 by planting trees at nine college campuses throughout the United States. Duke was among the inaugural campuses selected and was the first campus in North Carolina to receive the recognition.

"The consistency of receiving this recognition is great," Conner said. "We're all proud to focus on making a more sustainable campus."