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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Changing leaves brings visibility to the importance of trees on campus and beyond

Oct. 23, 2023
A Sugar Maple outside of Kottman Hall.

The morning air is crisp and the leaves on the trees at The Ohio State University and across the state are showing their changing colors. 

“We can’t live without trees. They are a vital part of our campus, and we consider them living infrastructure,” said Andrew Neil, assistant director of sustainability for Facilities Operations and Development (FOD), and a member of Ohio State's Campus Tree Advisory Committee.

“They provide us with an abundance of benefits including cleaning the air of pollutants, filtering and storing stormwater, sequestering carbon, providing habitat for wildlife, and maybe most important to our student body they create cool and inviting places for recreation, respite, and learning.”

Trees on campus

Ohio State is one of more than 200 campuses that has earned Tree Campus Higher Education recognition, an Arbor Day Foundation Program – meaning that is has met five standards, which includes a Campus Tree Care Plan and dedicating resources to enact and enforce the Campus Tree Care Plan. Learn more about this designation here.

“Having a healthy canopy across campus, has the potential to improve the physical and mental health of our community and create space where teaching, learning, and research innovation can thrive!” – Andrew Neil, assistant director of sustainability for FOD and member of Ohio State's Campus Tree Advisory Committee

Since 2018, approximately 3,000 new trees have been planted on the Columbus campus. These include replacement trees, tree plantings at new developments, and “mass tree plantings” aimed at growing the campus canopy.

“Part of maintaining our healthy tree campus also includes a tree recycling program, which aims to sustainably salvage trees that are designated for removal and recycle them into functional retail products for the community. Contributions from this program go towards maintaining the health of the existing trees on campus and supporting the planting and development of new trees.”

Engaging the Ohio State community and beyond

The Campus Tree Advisory Committee organizes and facilitates opportunities for the campus community and beyond to learn about the role and benefits of trees.

On October 27, in collaboration with Facilities Operations and Development, Wexner Medical Center, Chadwick Arboretum and the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, the Ohio State community will have the opportunity to grow a legacy by participating in ArboBlitz 2023 and plant 20 trees at Wexner Medical Center East Hospital in under 3 hours.

In the spring Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens hosts the annual Arbor Day observance at Ohio State which A tree tagged on campus.dedicates the newly planted trees and presents the Tree Hero Award to individuals who champion the important role of trees on campus and beyond. Chadwick Arboretum is in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Throughout the year, students, volunteers and staff of Chadwick assist in identifying, measuring and mapping trees on Ohio State’s campus. Explore trees on campus through the Ohio State Tree and Plant App.

Woodland owners and forest managers through the Ohio Woodlands Stewards program, led by Kathy Smith, CFAES forestry program director in the School of Environment and Natural Resources and member of the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, also have opportunities to learn about trees and managing them through regular outreach workshops and classes, covering topics such as invasive species, identification of trees through the seasons, what trees to plant and more.