The USF Tree Committee, which is comprised of USF faculty, staff, students, and volunteers from the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County, the city of Temple Terrace, Tampa Electric (TECO), and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, hosted a tree planting ceremony on March 28 in honor of Arbor Day (April 28).
The annual event bolsters USF’s distinction as a Tree Campus Higher Education, which is an Arbor Day Foundation program.
To obtain Tree Campus Higher Education distinction, campuses must meet the five core standards for sustainable campus forestry, including the establishment of a tree advisory committee, create a campus tree-care plan, specify dedicated annual expenditures for the Campus tree program, hold an Arbor Day event, and sponsor students in service-learning projects.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, in one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange. Trees also lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade. Shaded surfaces may be 20–45°F cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded materials.
This year’s event, which was held at the Chemistry Plaza on USF Tampa campus, celebrated the planting of 44 trees, 37 of which were donated by TECO and seven were purchased by the university.
Steering the committee and leading the charge to ensure USF maintains its status as a Tree Campus Higher Education, USF Facilities landscape architect Shuang Hao says the addition of so many trees has made a big difference on campus.
“Over the years we have worked to provide shades, colors, and diversity to the campus in addition to creating a more sustainable campus,” said Hao. “We planted shade trees along sidewalks to block the hot Florida sun, flowering trees at entrances and in the fields to provide colors, and most importantly, we have planted different varieties. All of them provide benefits to in-and-outside of the USF community.”
“The efforts of the [Tree] Committee are based in science. Urban canopies help communities stay cooler, they promote active lifestyles, and exposure to trees is linked to physical and mental restoration,” said Nicole Brand, Director of the ECORE System, which was established to manage and promote the environmental assets of the USF Botanical Gardens, USF Forest Preserve, and USF Geopark.
“Our entire campus community is proud of this sustained commitment to environmental stewardship,” continued Brand. “Our diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at USF contributes to a healthier, more sustainable world for us all.”