Duke sets roots among top tree-friendly colleges

Duke planted two new oak trees in front of the Allen Building in January.

March 01, 2011

For the third year in a row, Duke’s commitment to sustainability has bloomed into national recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Duke was recently named among 113 other colleges and universities nationwide as a 2010 Tree Campus USA, its third consecutive ranking since the award started in 2008. Tree Campus USA schools are selected by the Arbor Day Foundation for promoting healthy management of campus forests and engaging the community in environmental stewardship. Duke is among five total North Carolina colleges on the 2010 list.

In addition to hundreds of new and decade-old trees on its East, West and Central campuses, Duke also features 7,060 acres of land in Alamance, Durham and Orange counties as part of Duke Forest.

“We’re constantly reviewing our trees and looking to make our quality of trees better for all of us and the environment,” said Roger Conner, superintendent for Duke Grounds. “After all, we are the ‘campus in a forest,’ and we’re awfully committed to sustainability.”

To receive its Tree Campus USA recognition, Duke met five standards of tree care and community engagement: establish a campus tree advisory committee, the creation of a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body, verification of dedicated spending on a campus tree-care plan, involvement in an Arbor Day observance and evidence of a campus tree-care plan.

In January, Facilities coordinated the replacement of two 80-year old oak trees from West Campus because of root decay and wood loss. Facilities has also coordinated tree planting and care events with student organizations.

“By encouraging its students to plant trees and participate in service that will help the environment, Duke is making a positive impact on its community that will last for decades,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. “One goal of the Tree Campus USA program is to help create healthier communities for its citizens through the planting of trees, and the city of Durham will certainly benefit from Duke’s commitment to being a Tree Campus USA.”

The Arbor Day Foundation launched Tree Campus USA in 2008 by planting trees at nine college campuses throughout the United States. Duke was among the inaugural campuses selected and was the first campus in North Carolina to receive the recognition.

“It’s an honor to once again be a part of this list,” Conner said. “In the end, we’re just trying to do what will be best for our campus and the environment.”