UCI to Receive Award for Tree Campus USA

On Nov. 19, the Arbor Day Foundation will be awarding a greener gift to UC Irvine as a part of the Tree Campus USA program. In addition to the award, the Arbor Day foundation, in partnership with Toyota, will be sponsoring a volunteer-led tree-planting event in Aldrich Park.

Volunteers will be planting trees in four-to-six tree clusters, while tilling the soil and preparing the trees for their new homes. ASUCI and The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) are working on coordinating the event from within UCI, hoping to pull volunteers from not only the student body, but faculty, staff and alumni who wish to be a part of a new piece of UCI history.

The Tree Campus USA program is dedicated to the recognition of campuses whose practices in campus forestry can be considered as an example throughout the United States. The goal of the program is to honor college campuses and leaders of their surrounding communities for promoting healthy urban forest management and engaging the campus community in environmental stewardship. In 1995, former UCI Chancellor Laurel Wilkening set into motion what has now become the Green and Gold plan, a system that ensures the efficient use of land while guaranteeing the development of environmentally suitable landscaping. To that end, the Campus and Environmental Services has implemented a long-term land use plan, to ensure that the land around campus is used effectively.

Part of the Tree Campus USA program stipulates that student activism is a key part of a green campus community. In addition to efforts by the administration, student groups like TGIF have sponsored and organized many campus “green” events, like the highly successful Farmers Market at UCI, and the upcoming Anteater Garden Initiative (AGI). TGIF, in particular, has set aside funds for additional student-led project initiatives, like AGI, in order to foster increased campus awareness for sustainability, in addition to promoting the diverse nature of sustainable projects on campus. UCI also works with The Shade Tree Partnership and the Irvine Ranch Water District with the Shade Tree Nursery near the ARC, to grow seeds and saplings into juvenile trees to distribute to both the UCI campus and community spaces.

The award ceremony is expected to begin around noon on the 19th of November, with the planned meeting spot to be the open lawn area between Student Services and Humanities, near the Student Center bikeway. Volunteers are advised to wear comfortable clothing designed for outdoor work, including closed-toed shoes. Equipment will be provided but simple gardening gear, like gloves, may run out early, so volunteers are encouraged to bring their own. Thanks to sponsorship by Toyota, the first 100 volunteers will be treated to lunch, along with a free t-shirt and hat. The event will be very hands-on, and will involve the planting of a variety of native and flowering trees in Aldrich Park in order to further the campus goal of more diversity among the tree species.

The “Tree Campus” designation affirms UCI’s longstanding commitment to the planning and management of the campus urban forest. The award reflects the dedication of campus staff involved in the planning, management and maintenance of trees, the many faculty, staff and students who have participated in volunteer tree-planting programs, and the volunteers at the Shade Tree Nursery. Volunteers and interested parties should contact TGIF (tgif@asuci.uci.edu) or ASUCI in order to learn more information about the tree planning, as well as future green projects in and around the UCI campus.