KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Arbor Day Foundation has once again recognized Western Michigan University's commitment to effective community forestry management, certifying it under a new Tree Campus Higher Education designation this year.
The change to former Tree Campus USA certification now includes Tree Campus K-12 and Tree Campus Healthcare as a way to distinguish those institutions from college and university campuses. To obtain this distinction, WMU met the five core standards for an effective campus forest management, including establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and sponsorship of student service-learning projects.
"Your entire campus community should be proud of your sustained commitment to environmental stewardship," read a letter from the Arbor Day Foundation. "Again, we celebrate your diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at Western Michigan University in 2019. We know that 2020 has brought unprecedented challenges, but you have shown that your commitment to trees is unwavering. Now more than ever, thank you for contributing to a healthier planet for all of us."
WMU was one of 29 campuses to earn the designation of Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in 2008, the first year of this award, and was one of only two colleges in Michigan to receive this certification. Supported by a grant from Toyota Motor North America, it honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees as well as engaging their students and employees in the spirit of conservation. The program is modeled on the foundation's popular Tree City USA program, which began in 1976.
As part of WMU's ongoing commitment, two years ago the University updated its Tree Care Plan to include a fund used to offset tree removal on campus after extensive discussion during development projects. The goal is to maximize the value of the campus landscape and minimize the cost of construction. The amount of the valuation will be put into a fund used for research, management or future landscape projects that would further the WMU Tree Campus Higher Education policy and standards committee.
Any current placement of trees also considers the planning of future construction projects to protect the landscape for generations to come.
"Students have been the most important determining factor needed to achieve this long-standing program. Over the years, the Student Sustainability Grants have played a big role in the planning process as well as hands-on opportunities when planting trees and studying trees on our beautiful campus," says Mark Frever, director of Landscape Services.
"We are pleased to engage campus constituents with the new tree care plan," adds Peter Strazdas, associate vice president of Facilities Management.
National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, but many states observe Arbor Day on other dates according to the best tree planting times.
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