Category: Trees

UIC Earns Tree Campus USA Certification for 6th Year in a Row

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) 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. UIC has been recognized as Tree Campus USA every year since 2011.

In order to maintain our Tree Campus USA status, UIC must hold an arbor day observances annually and conduct service learning projects each year. In 2016, UIC planted 2 trees in April as our arbor day observance event. Read all about it here: 2016 Arbor Day Observance. We tagged many trees with students from UIC College Prep as our service learning project. Read all about it here: 2016 Service Learning Projects.

UIC will be celebrating the 2017 arbor day observance on Friday, May 12 as we plant 30 trees in the Grove along with volunteers form Enablon, Chicago Tree Initiative, and American Forest. See the event information here.

Exciting news to be added to our 2017 recertification is the addition of the UIC Tree Inventory! UIC recently fostered a partnership with Bartlett Tree Experts in order to build and maintain our inventory of trees. This inventory provides valuable information on the number of diverse species, total canopy coverage, and the health and age of all trees. This information can be used in order to develop practical and beneficial management practices. Want to look up a specific tree on campus? Now you can! Read more about the tree inventory, as well as the benefits of maintaining a tree inventory here.

Tree Planting Provides $121 in Annual Benefits to UIC

Over a dozen students came out to UIC’s west campus on a rainy April Fool’s Day morning, made possible by funding from and the Arbor Day Foundation.  A Northern Hackberry and a Tulip Tree were selected because of their ability to thrive in an urban environment. Both of the trees measured about 3 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH) and are expected to provide $64 in benefits every year. If the trees are adequately cared for, which they will be since UIC is an award winning Tree Campus USA member, they will provide at least $121 in benefits every year!

The Northern Hackberry, (C. occidentalis) which is a Chicago native and is known to be a thriving urban tree, is a low maintenance tree surviving industrial conditions and harsh winters. The Northern Hackberry is also a suitable tree for nesting sites for birds. The Northern Hackberry that was placed on UIC’s campus is roughly 40 feet tall and is known to attract pollinators. It was placed in an area where not many trees are located to increase the biodiversity of the west campus.

The other tree that was placed just around the corner of the UIC co-generation plant was a Tulip tree, (L. tulipifera) which are one of the largest native trees in North America. It can grow up to 60 feet, and grows at a rapid rate. There is only one other Tulip tree at UIC, located on the east side of campus.

The soil where the two trees were located was mostly gravel, so potting soil was added to enrich and enhance the ability of the trees to take root. The two trees are a great addition to the UIC forest of more than 5,300 trees!

The planting of these two trees will provide several important benefits and will help UIC achieve many of our Climate Commitment goals:

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 1: Carbon Neutral Campus.

Trees conserve energy by shading areas which reduces heat that many buildings can absorb, also effectively reducing the heat island effect which is critical in an urban environment. Trees canopies also reduce winds which can help retain heat in buildings. The two trees that were planted at UIC today will each conserve 28 Kilowatt/hours of electricity for cooling and reduce the consumption of oil or natural gas by 13 therms.

One of the most important components of planting trees in urban areas is the amount of carbon they sequester. The two new trees that were planted at UIC today will reduce carbon emission by 103 pounds each. It is important to understand how trees sequester carbon: essentially the roots, trunk, stems, and leaves collect the carbon dioxide and convert it to food for the tree and oxygen for us.

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 3: Net Zero Water Campus.

This Tulip and Hackberry act as storm water reservoirs and can reduce run off. Trees reduce run off by several different means, for example, the leaves, branches, and bark collect the rain reducing run off. The trees root system filters and stores large amount of storm water as well. UIC aims to reduce storm water by 10% by 2020 and 25% by 2030.

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 4: Biodiverse Campus.

Trees selectively absorb pollutants in the air such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide through their leaves effectively improving the air quality on the UIC campus.  These two trees will help increase biodiversity in the campus forestry. A high level of biodiversity is important because a balanced makeup of trees helps lessen susceptibility to insects and diseases that predominantly affect one species or genus. This can help prevent the associated catastrophic loss.  It is the goal of UIC to increase tree biodiversity by planting no more than 5% of the campus tree inventory with trees of the same species and 10% of the same genus. The C. occidentalis and L. tulipifera help us climb higher to that goal.

All data was calculated through the National Tree Benefit Calculator, provided by You can read more about the UIC Climate Commitments here. See what Edder, a former Treetern, had to say about this event.

Where did the trees go?

Green ash tree (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) is the second most popular tree at UIC, comprising of almost 7% of all trees on campus (out of 5,400)

Green ash tree (Fraxinus
pennsylvanica) is the second most popular tree at UIC, comprising of almost 7% of all trees on campus (out of 5,400).

This winter, UIC will be removing several trees around campus. The majority of these trees are ash and the UIC Grounds department has logged their health status and location beginning in September 2015.  Since then, the health of these trees has deteriorated and they must be removed.

A half-inch metallic green pest is making our trees sick. This pest is known as the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennus) and its larvae feed on the inner bark of the tree, slowly killing it from the inside. Read more about this invasive species here

UIC currently removes any ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) showing signs of emerald ash borer infestation, as well as neighboring ash trees. The impact that the borer will likely have on the campus forest serves as evidence of the need for greater campus tree diversity to prevent such a large impact by an insect that affects only one genus of tree.

Carly Rizor, superintendent of the Grounds department at UIC, is committed to preserving and maintaining our campus forest. “UIC will continue to work with professional arborists to ensure our canopy remains diverse yet compatible for our urban environment.”  

UIC takes great pride in our tree inventory, as we are a Tree Campus USA university since 2011. Read more about UIC’s involvement in the Arbor Day Foundations’ Tree Campus USA program, as well as how to join our Tree Care Committee.