To obtain the distinction from the Arbor Day Foundation, UWG met the five core standards for an effective campus forestry management. James Hembree, landscape superintendent at UWG, said the seven-year streak shows a tradition of commitment to maintaining the campus’ tree canopy.
“Earning this honor yet again shows that everyone – from our visionary leaders to the people who do the work every day to maintain all our trees – values our canopy for both its aesthetic and ecological value,” Hembree said. “Trees provide many benefits like oxygen, clean air, carbon storage and habitat for wildlife, and they increase property value and provide raw materials for nearly every industry in our country.”
The five core standards set out by the Arbor Day Foundation to earn the Tree Campus USA distinction are the 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 the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, UWG has met those core standards year after year.
“Your diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at the University of West Georgia contributes to a healthier, more sustainable world for us all,” said Dan Lambe, Arbor Day Foundation president, in UWG’s award letter. “Your entire campus community should be proud of this sustained commitment to environmental stewardship.”
Hembree pointed out the very word “campus” originates from a Latin word meaning “field surrounded by woods,” firmly establishing the importance of trees to a college environment.
“Trees soften the landscape and help to frame our buildings,” Hembree said. “Studies have been done on the psychologically calming effect trees have on people because they provide an environment for a peaceful feeling. They have a relaxing and calming effect on us that reduces stress and actually lowers our heart rates.”
Beyond aesthetics, though, trees provide other benefits as well, Hembree said.
“Trees also help cool our buildings, which reduces air-conditioning costs, and also protect our buildings from strong winter winds,” Hembree said. “They stabilize our soil, prevent and contain erosion and protect our waterways, all of which keeps a healthy environment for a vibrant and varied wildlife.”
Hembree said it’s the people on his staff who help the oaks, hickory and magnolia trees that cover UWG’s campus survive and thrive.
“The people earned this award,” Hembree said. “They have a passion for their work to be the best stewards for our campus environment. What we do affects everyone who visits our campus on a daily basis, and they may not even know it. We’re appreciative of the hard work done by our staff members and volunteers – including our long-standing association with the Carroll County Master Gardeners – to keep our campus canopy as healthy and vibrant as it’s been over the years.”
Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.
“If ever there was a time for trees, now is that time,” Lambe said. “Worldwide, we are facing issues with air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being, and energy use. By earning Tree Campus USA recognition, UWG has shown its commitment to protecting and preserving its valuable tree resources and will reap their benefits for generations of students to come.”
UWG serves more than 13,500 students from across Georgia, 37 other states and 72 countries. Perennially ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university, West Georgia offers 88 fields of study, including business, nursing, education, STEM, social sciences and the arts. It generates a regional economic impact of nearly $520 million and provides a safe, quality and affordable college experience that transforms lives.