Even in the middle of winter, trees take center stage on the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus.
For the eighth consecutive year, the Arbor Day Foundation has named UofL a “Tree Campus USA,” a status awarded to colleges and universities that invest in their campus trees.
“Year after year, UofL continues to protect, expand and diversify our campus tree population because we see trees as vital green infrastructure for sustainable urban living,” said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives. “Trees not only beautify our campus, but provide essential shade, windbreaks, wildlife habitat, storm water infiltration, cleaner air, nutrient cycling, mulch and even food.”
Yes, even food. Last winter, UofL students along with university community partner, Dave Barker, a neighbor to UofL’s Shelby Campus, tapped trees on Shelby and Belknap campuses to make syrup. The result was later served atop freshly made pancakes, and the project is continuing this year.
The university first developed a tree care plan in 2010 for more than 2,500 trees on its 309-acre Belknap Campus.
Trees on Belknap campus represent more than 130 species, including many native to the region. Among them are dogwoods, tulip poplars (the Kentucky state tree), oaks, persimmons, magnolias and elms, including a rare American Elm, a species devastated by Dutch Elm disease in the last century.
In 2017, UofL planted 57 trees and lost 30: 20 due to construction projects and 10 because they were dead or dying and posed a safety risk.
The university is planning many public tree events for spring, including a tree giveaway on Arbor Day, April 6.