The Arbor Day Foundation has again awarded Appalachian State University its Tree Campus USA distinction — a title the university has held since 2014.

The Tree Campus USA program recognizes higher education institutions and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students, faculty and staff in the spirit of conservation.

To honor its continued commitment to protecting and preserving trees, as well as the upcoming Arbor Day on Friday, April 26, the university will plant 25 new trees near Walker Hall as part of its Earth Month celebration. The tree species to be planted are dogwood, hawthorn, blue Atlas cedar, ginkgo, sweet gum, redbud, tulip poplar and bald Cyprus.

To obtain the Tree Campus distinction, Appalachian had to meet the five core standards for sustainable campus forestry required by the program:

  • Establish a tree advisory committee.
  • Present evidence of a care plan for campus trees.
  • Dedicate annual expenditures for its campus tree program.
  • Hold an Arbor Day observance.
  • Sponsor student service-learning projects.

Additionally, Appalachian has joined the foundation’s new Time for Trees initiative, in which 5 million tree planters commit to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities worldwide by 2022 — the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day.

Appalachian arborist Chris Erickson said, “It’s so important that we are replacing trees on campus as well as adding to our inventory.”

He added, “The most important thing we have been doing in the last decade or so in regard to planting trees on campus is really considering everything that goes into having a long-lived tree. This includes all aspects of picking the right tree for the location, but also choosing the right planting locations that could host trees for long into the future.”

Dr. Mike Madritch, associate professor and assistant chair in the Department of Biology, shared several reasons for planting campus trees: Trees offer shade, help stabilize banks, supply shelter from wind and provide some carbon storage.

He said, “Over the years, Appalachian students, staff and faculty have planted hundreds of trees on campus. What’s most impressive to me is that they took the effort to plant those trees to benefit people 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

“Cutting trees is fast, but growing them takes a long-term commitment. In urban settings, trees need maintenance — a tree on a heavily trafficked university campus is not the same as a tree growing in a forest,” he added.

According to the foundation:

  • 100 million trees can remove 578,000 tons of chemical pollution from the air, and forests provide 75% of Earth’s accessible fresh water by removing impurities and preventing erosion.
  • A single tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide annually to help regulate climate.
  • Trees are a major pillar of the global economy. The timber sector generates $600 billion annually and 54.2 million jobs. Forests also contribute to the recreation and tourism industries.

Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, said, “It can be easy to take trees for granted, but they are absolutely critical to maintaining balance on our planet — supporting clean air and water, healthy food and a livable climate.”

Article written by Jessica Stump, courtesy of Appalachian State University