Tree Campus USA

Tree Campus USAThe 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. It was launched in 2008, and manages to successfully engage campus communities in progressive tree conservation.  In 2011, UIC began working toward recognition under this program and every year since, UIC was recognized as a Tree Campus.

To achieve recognition, UIC must meet five standards:

  1. Campus Tree Advisory Committee

    The Campus Tree Advisory Committee meets 2-3 times per year to discuss tree-related management issues on campus.  Sometimes, they meet jointly with the Chancellor’s Committee on Sustainability and Energy’s Grounds subcommittee. See more here.

  2. Campus Tree Care Plan

    A campus tree care plan and program with expenditures has been developed to help guide the management of UIC’s campus forest into the future. See more here.

  3. Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures

  4. Arbor Day Observance

    See more here.

  5. Service Learning Project

    We hold Tree Campus USA observances annually and conduct service learning projects where several trees were planted around campus. Future events are posted on this page or the Office of Sustainability events calendar as they become available.See more here. If your department, student group, or class is interested in a service learning project or in using the data, please contact

Learn more about UIC’s involvement in the care of our campus trees!

  • An inventory was completed of UIC’s approximately 5,000 trees in the summer of 2011 using i-Tree, a program developed by the United States Forest Service. i-Tree calculates the benefits of trees, including carbon sequestration, pollutant removal and monetary value. The is updated yearly. The entire campus tree inventory and benefit data is available for UIC students and faculty to use. To see a map of all the trees on campus, click on the map below.


  • Certain times, the Office of Sustainability will host internships under the Sustainability Internship Program for undergraduate students to work on the UIC tree inventory.  The interns are responsible for the following:

    1. Help maintain Tree Campus USA recognition

    2. Update the campus tree inventory, accounting for removal of trees and new plantings

    3. Maintain and organize the campus tree inventory in excel (keeping track of tree ID, species type, measuring of girths, location, etc. using GIS equipment)

    4. Assist in the mapping of trees using ArcGIS 10.1

    5. Assist in the update of the Campus Forestry Plan through data collection, writing, analysis of environmental, public health and financial benefits

    6. Gain meaningful experience in sustainability related field work related to urban forests

    See past intern blogs:

    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

  • 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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

  • Researching the Impact of Trees in an Urban Setting

    Alyssa and HulliomsAlyssa Straits, Bioengineering

    Hulliams Kamlem, Public Health


    Most people do not think about the health benefits of trees and their contribution to the embellishment of UIC’s campus as a whole. Our internship has been dedicated to keeping an up-to-date inventory of the 5,000 trees on and around campus. Managing the campus’ tree inventory not only provides valuable data that is useful in determining the health, economic, and social benefits of trees and urban forestry, it also offers learning experiences for the UIC community. Keeping a current inventory of UIC’s trees upholds the university’s status as an environmentally-friendly institution. As Tree Campus Interns, we have provided primary support for managing UIC’s tree inventory through measurement, location identification, and species specification. We have ultimately identified the need for a holistic approach for campus health and wellness, with trees being a determining asset.


    • Update UIC’s tree inventory
    • Enter data into iTree, a software developed by the USDA Forest Service for urban forestry analysis
    • Maintain Tree Campus USA recognition

    Relationship to Sustainability

    • Urban Heat Island Effect
    • Urban Forest
    • Pollution removal


    • University
    • Office of Sustainability
    • Students, Faculty & Staff
    • City/Community
    • Arbor Day Foundation

    Tools Used to Inventory

    • GPS: exact tree location
    • Biltmore stick: DBH & Height
    • Measuring tape: DBH, Height & Crown Spread
    • Map: to help find newly planted trees

    Data Analysis from iTree

    2014tree BenMAP


    2014tree pollutants removed



    • 300 Trees inventoried
    • Structural value: $14,226
    • Annual Carbon Sequestered: 1,564 lbs.

    Top 5 species planted in 2014

    Crabapple Total: 20 Varieties: 4

    Total: 20
    Varieties: 4

    Elm Total: 56 Varieties: 4

    Total: 56
    Varieties: 4

    Oak Total: 47 Varieties: 6

    Total: 47
    Varieties: 6

    Maple Total: 21 Varieties: 3

    Total: 21
    Varieties: 3

    Linden Total: 27 Varieties: 2

    Total: 27
    Varieties: 2







    Recommendations for the Future

    • Detailed maps of tree location
    • Fostering the knowledge of different tree species
    • Greater Involvement of students on the Tree Care Committee
    • Tree Plantings
    • Greater Diversity of Trees

    Quantifying Tree Benefits

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



Please see for more information on the Tree Campus USA project and for information regarding the benefit of trees.