By Pat Byington
In celebration of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 50th Anniversary, the school will plant 50 trees this year. The school’s facilities team is also continuously replacing fallen and damaged trees.
“At UAB, we recognize our tree canopy as vital public health infrastructure that reduces urban air temperatures, improves air quality, increases pedestrian comfort, reduces flooding, and improves well-being,” said Julie Price, PhD., manager of UAB Sustainability. “The trees we plant and care for now will benefit our community for generations to come.”
This past winter, UAB launched a new sustainability strategic plan that will transform the university’s academic and medical campus by the year 2025.
Preserving and increasing the number of trees on campus is a major priority in the plan.
As an urban institution, UAB plans to invest significantly – greening the campus – through space allocation, communication, landscape and public realm design standards. And these kind of ventures are paying off.
A couple of years ago, UAB Sustainability intern Nina Morgan inventoried all 4,400 trees on campus, with roughly 900 of those trees planted in the past five years. Her study was used to calculate the value of the trees throughout the campus.
According to UAB Sustainability, since the university’s start 50 years ago, its trees have provided an estimated $125 million worth of air pollution control, $126 million in soil erosion control and recycled at least $152 million worth of water.
In 50 years, a single tree can generate up to $100,000 in controlling air and soil pollution in addition to conserving water in ecosystem services.
Trees are not just of monetary value. UAB researchers have found that spending 20 minutes in an urban park simply makes people happier.
One way UAB maintains stewardship of their forest canopy is meeting the standards set forth by the National Arbor Day Foundation to become a Tree Campus USA. UAB has received this recognition for five straight years.
“It’s exciting to see UAB making such a commitment to prioritizing green spaces on our campus and ensuring we have a healthy, happy tree population in the midst of our urban location,” said Price.
To become a Tree Campus USA, the university must meet the following criteria:
- Establish a tree advisory committee
- Develop a campus tree-care plan
- Dedicate annual expenditures for its campus tree program
- Host an Arbor Day observance
- Sponsor environmentally-related student service-learning projects
Be a part of the 50th Anniversary by donating a tree in the memory of a friend or loved one. That one gift will “give back” in so many ways – cleaner air, land, water and the general well-being and happiness of the community.
One way you can give back to the university and the Birmingham community as a whole is by donating to the UAB Tree Fund.
For more on the modern, mobile guide to Birmingham, visit www.bhamnow.com.