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Friday, September 22, 2023


UH awarded Tree Campus USA certification


UH has more than 5,000 trees on campus. | Justin Tijerina / The Cougar.

UH is known for many things — a nationally-ranked football team, a Tier One research classification and one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation. But there’s one part of campus people often overlook that’s bringing UH even more attention: the trees.

In light of the beautiful lush greenery that pervades campus, UH was recently awarded a Tree Campus USA certification in honor of a variety of efforts to preserve and support the multitude of trees on campus.

Universities can receive this accolade from the Arbor Day Foundation after “hosting a tree advisory committee, implementing a campus tree care plan to preserve and protect trees (and) focusing a portion of its budget on a campus tree program,” according to a UH news release.

There are approximately 5,000 trees on campus, with species ranging from southern magnolias to honey mesquite trees.

“In just a short walk through any area of campus, you can easily find as many as 30 species of trees,” said Sarah Kelly, manager of the office of sustainability. “Being recognized as a Tree Campus USA shows that we care about our trees, the environment and the beauty of our campus.”

UH’s Campus Tree Committee was established last year in February for the purpose of guiding the tree care plan and other initiatives.

Kelly said the purpose of the tree care plan is to “ensure preservation compliance for trees on University property, improve the likelihood of tree resilience during and after construction projects, provide standards of tree maintenance, reduce tree and infrastructure conflicts, provide a standardized process for tree-related issues and provide guidance for the replacement or addition of trees.”

The calculated costs for the early stage of this program were $146,937, according to the application for certification. This cost covers tree planting and initial care, tree management, salaries and equipment.

Since establishing the plan, the committee has spent the past year working to implement its protocols, Kelly said.

Along with these long-term processes, UH participated in National Arbor Day as well as host a service learning programs.

UH’s first National Arbor Day celebration was on Nov. 6, 2015. It hosted Rock the Campus, a celebratory services event that satisfied both of these last two standards.

For this event, “students, faculty and staff mulched areas surrounding tree groves, cleaned out and weeded beds at the base of trees and planted lemon trees in the Campus Community Garden,” Kelly said.

Graphic design freshman Jake Williams transferred to UH from Texas Tech University in January, and he said one of his favorite parts of his new campus is the trees.

“At UH, there are tons of trees everywhere of all different types, and it’s something that people really take for granted, seeing trees wherever they look,” Williams said. “To me, it’s a small thing that has a huge effect on the beauty of the campus. It’s nice being able to walk from class to class and see beautiful trees everywhere I look.”

Along with this certification, the University has received other acknowledgments of its sustainable practices. These include being the only Texas college with a gold rating for its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System report.

“Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities while helping to create a healthier planet for us all.”

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