UNC Asheville’s dedication to environmental sustainability has been given dual recognition in 2018 as both Bee Campus USA and Tree Campus USA. The university celebrated the newest certification, Tree Campus USA, awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation, in an Arbor Day celebration on March 28, 2018.
UNC Asheville has met five standards developed by the Arbor Day Foundation to promote healthy trees and student involvement on campus, including creating a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree plan, a campus tree program and a service learning project, and observing Arbor Day. The university celebrated Arbor Day this year with a special tree planting during UNC Asheville’s biannual Greenfest Celebration.
“Trees are a part of our educational infrastructure. The same way that we take care of our books, our labs, and our buildings, we also take care of our landscape, and the trees on it,” said UNC Asheville Interim Chancellor Joe Urgo at the Arbor Day celebration and tree planting. “This is more than just tree planting, it’s a statement of values. It’s a statement of educational values and campus values.”
For the first time this year UNC Asheville was recognized as Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management. Currently there are 344 campuses across the United States with this recognition.
“As a certified Tree Campus, UNC Asheville recognizes the critical role of trees as part of our campus infrastructure. From reducing heat islands to protecting against erosion and enhancing study spaces, our trees provide invaluable services,” said Melissa Acker, UNC Asheville’s grounds manager. “We celebrate Arbor Day to remind everyone that trees are amazing. In particular, the persimmon tree outside of my office is really amazing.”
Another persimmon tree was planted by UNC Asheville alumnus Macon Foscue, owner of Whole Tree Permaculture, who returned to campus for the Arbor Day celebration to plant the tree as part of his “1,000 Fruit Trees for Asheville, NC” effort.
UNC Asheville became the nation’s eighth certified Bee Campus in 2016, a designation that recognizes educational campuses that commit to a set of practices that support pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, among thousands of other species. Bee City USA has renewed UNC Asheville’s Bee Campus USA certification for 2018 following a rigorous renewal application process.
Among many varied efforts to support native pollinators, UNC Asheville has planted hundreds of pollinator-friendly native plants and several pollinator gardens over the past several years, and is committed to minimizing hazards to pollinators by using no neonicotinoid pesticides, and making 30 acres (96%) of the academic core pesticide-free. Various university courses include pollinators in their syllabi and removing invasive species is an important student activity during the biannual Greenfest Service Learning Day. UNC Asheville is also home to the Bee Hotel, which features a living learning sculptural installation that provides habitat for pollinators and plants, while enhancing campus aesthetics and facilitating student and community engagement.
For more information about pollinator gardens and urban forests on campus, visit facilities.unca.edu.