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. 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:
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.
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.
Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures
In order to maintain its Tree Campus USA status (and also because its fun!) UIC holds yearly observance during Earth Month commemorating Arbor Day. Click here to learn about our annual Arbor Day Observance events.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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
UIC’s Own Husband and Wife Tree, by Karima Patel, 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.
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.
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.
“Treesearch,” if you will.
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.
Kelly Ting, M.S. prepared Alyssa’s and Hulliams’ report to illustrate the public health implications of maintaining campus tree inventories.
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.