Tree Campus USA

 

The University of Illinois at Chicago is among the few universities that participate in the Tree Campus USA program, which promotes effective tree management, campus community involvement, and nature connectivity among faculty members and students through forestry efforts. Tree Campus USA is a national program sponsored by Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota that assists nationwide universities and colleges in establishing and sustaining campus forests. In 2011, UIC began working toward recognition under this program and every year since, UIC was recognized as Tree Campus USA.

Tree Campus USA Certification

To achieve recognition, UIC must meet five standards outlined on the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA page.

UIC’s Tree Advisory Committee meets with the Chancellor’s Committee for Sustainability and Energy Grounds subcommittee to discuss the status of UIC Trees on an annual basis. To join the Tree Advisory committee, sign up for the CCSE Grounds subcommittee.

UIC has a Tree Care Plan (sometimes referred to as Forest Management Plan) that contains recommendations by the Tree Advisory Committee how to best care for UIC’s trees. You can access the current version here: Tree Care Plan (updated 2016)

We hold Tree Campus USA arbor day observances annually and conduct service learning projects that include tree tagging, tree walks, and tree plantings. These yearly observances are typically held during Earth Month commemorating Arbor Day. Sign up as a Eco-Educator to become involved in future Arbor Day Observances and Service Learning Projects.

Tree Campus USA Internship

Certain times, the Office of Sustainability will host internships under the Sustainability Internship Program for undergraduate students to work on the UIC Campus USA Program. Past interns have blogged about their experience:

So Why Are Trees So Important Again? by Karima Patel, Summer 2015

Tree Campus USA Internship.  It’s Not Just Hugging Trees, by Edder Antunez, Summer 2015

UIC’s Own Husband and Wife Tree, by Karima Patel, Summer 2015

Tree Campus USA – Reason to Environmental Revitalization, by Neel Thakkar, Summer 2015

SIP Blog Alyssa Straits, Summer 2014

SIP Blog Hulliams Kamlem, Summer 2014

 

Tree Benefits

Green spaces (aka trees) are a good predictor of human health. They offer a wide range of health and economic benefits at the individual, community, and social level. These benefits include improved air quality due to the reduction of carbon footprint and pollutants, restorative physiological and psychological functions due to the contact with the natural environment, increased opportunities for physical activities and social contacts, and several others.1,2 Recognizing these benefits, this paper outlines a few public health metrics that can be used to measure the health advantages of UIC green spaces in the future—when more data and feasible calculation tools are available.

Air Quality

Greenery cleans the air by reducing greenhouse gases and pollutant particulates in the atmosphere, and also cools the air by minimizing the “heat island effect” resulted from concrete, tall buildings, and asphalt. These air quality improvement and cooling can help reduce the incidences of respiratory illnesses and symptoms; costs associated with hospital visits and admissions, as well as work days losses; heat-related illnesses, and several others.

Water quality

Storm water runoff is an increasing environmental concern because if poorly managed, storm water pollutes our water, poses harm to marine creatures and also water consumers, and subsequently destroys the natural habitat. Through the use of green spaces and native plants, as well as other greenery, substantial amount of precipitation can be captured and thereby slows down the runoff of storm water.

Utilization

Open spaces with trees and other form of greenery encourage community to spend time outdoor, and use these available green spaces for healthy physical activities such as walking, cycling, and other social activities. Green spaces help to meet “Leave No Child Inside” national health objective, while strengthening social ties and improving community health status through increased physical and social activities at the same time.

Sense of well-being

Studies have shown that green spaces are associated with lower prevalence of lifestyle-, biological-, and cardiovascular-related risk factors. On top of that, green spaces also facilitate physiological and psychological healing, enhance better self-perceived health, lower overweight and obesity rates, decrease blood pressure, and several other morbidity and mortality rates.

Safety

In neighborhoods that have more green spaces there are less crimes and violence. A study in Chicago showed that green spaces reduce crime by 50% while it improves the environmental cleanliness and appearance. The safety perception and collective surveillance in the neighborhood are both boosted by green spaces. With these natural open spaces, communities also experience decreased feelings of anger, frustration, and also aggressions.

Productivity

Green spaces are associated with stress-reducing effects. Studies have shown that green scenery improves self-discipline, enhance attention capacity, and thereby boosts general academic and work performances. There are 20% improvement in self-discipline among attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) children. Academic performances in schools demonstrate significant improvement following the integration of more natural environment. Office workers with a view of green nature outside the window are shown to experience less stress and anxiety, become more productive, and reportedly have a higher rate of job satisfaction.

National Tree Benefit Calculator

Want to know the environmental benefit of a specific tree? All you’ll need is the name of the tree and the DBH (aka diameter). Enter the information at www.treebenefits.com/calculator and prepared to be amazed!

The National Tree Benefit Calculator was conceived and developed by Casey Trees and Davey Tree Expert Co.

 

Tree Research… “Treesearch,” if you will.

Researching the Impact of Trees in an Urban Setting

In 2014, UIC students Alyssa Straits and Hulliams Kamlem managed UIC’s tree inventory through measurement, location identification, and species specification. They identified the need for a holistic approach for campus health and wellness, with trees being a determining asset.

Quantifying Tree Benefits

Kelly Ting, M.S. prepared Alyssa’s and Hulliams’ report to illustrate the public health implications of maintaining campus tree inventories.

UIC Tree Growth Trends

In 2015, UIC students Neel Thakkar, Karima Patel, Edder Atunez and graduate student advisor RadhikaVenkatraman conducted a study on the growth of the trees on UIC’s West Campus. They measured Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) and Tree Height, and compared those results to previous data to understand trends. They took the study one step further by comparing the growth of the trees based on whether or not they were native to the Chicagoland area.

 

 

Please see www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa for more information on the Tree Campus USA project and www.MortonArb.org/EveryTreeMatters for information regarding the benefit of trees.