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Key Objective: 4.2.1 Increase Number of Trees

The iCAP 2020, objective 4.2.1 is: “Increase the number of trees on campus by 1,500 by FY24 and by 3,000 by FY30.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is F&S. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for Increase Number of Trees.

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Campus has 16,492 trees as calculated by our online Tree Campus inventory.[1] We aim to increase this number by FY24, planting 1,500 trees in the next five years and another 1,500 by FY30. Additional trees will not only boost aesthetic appeal, but will aid in greenhouse gas sequestration, water management, and financial savings. We also work to maintain the 10-20-30 diversity rule: urban forests should have no more than 10% of any single species, 20% of any single genus, and 30% of any single family. The Morton Arboretum has championed a further reduction to 5:10:15. In the 2019 Campus Tree Care Plan,[2] inventory analysis showed that the university’s tree diversity is 8.1:14:19.6. Thus, we currently meet the 10:20:30 rule, and we are committed to the stronger 5:10:15 goal. As of 2019, 187 species, 74 genera, and 38 families are represented on the Illinois campus.

A critical step to increasing trees’ abundance and visibility is maintaining annual Tree Campus USA recertification. In addition to anchoring the logistical and financial framework needed to foster a tree-friendly environment, the program’s five standards provide a pathway toward increased visibility and public awareness of our arboreal assets. The standards also include key goals for improving our urban forest, such as “[initiating] a service learning project to calculate the tree canopy coverage.”

An Adopt-a-Pathway program currently exists but has not been strongly promoted. In the coming five years, we aim to relaunch the program to encourage individuals to spend more time outdoors and enjoy the natural environment. University departments, clubs, and organizations will have the opportunity to “adopt” sections of campus walking paths and take on the responsibilities of litter removal, plant watering and weeding, and maintaining overall aesthetic appeal.

[1] Statistics collected on June 24, 2020.


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