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Tree inventory project could help Ohio State landscape grow

Amanda Cahoon / Lantern reporter

For Ohio State’s Chadwick Arboretum, Arbor Day is every day. But the national holiday that celebrates planting and caring for trees brought students, faculty and staff out for a party on the Oval.

About 100 people gathered near Mendenhall Lab Friday morning to celebrate a day dedicated to the trees on campus. Attendees put up with high winds and light rain for cake, punch and a visit from Brutus. They heard from students, faculty and a representative from Sasaki Associates, the planning and design firm working with OSU on the “One Ohio State Framework.”

Arbor Day is especially important to OSU, said Mary Maloney, director of Chadwick Arboretum.

“This is the only major university in the world whose identity is associated with a tree,” Maloney said. “I think that lends some extraordinary credence to our celebration.”

This was the university’s 141st Arbor Day Celebration, but this year the Chadwick Arboretum will show off the trees on the Oval by providing information on placards placed in front on certain trees, Maloney said.

Thirty-two trees on the Oval have been labeled with their name and ecological services. Through a walking tour named “Trees of the Oval,” visitors can follow a map to locate each tree.

The OSU Extension Why Trees Matter Program manages the trees on campus.

“There’s typically money to install trees and money to remove trees, but there’s seldom money to support the trees through their maturation,” Maloney said. “That’s a mistake that we’re making.”

Trees must be at least 25 years old to reach their ecological potential, Maloney said. Ecological services include absorbing carbon dioxide, enhancing the air quality by reducing particulate matter and reducing wind speed around structures, according to treesmatter.osu.edu.

“Typically trees on our campus have an average range of about 12 years,” Maloney said.

In the “One Ohio State Framework,” all of the trees on campus need to be inventoried, said Ricardo Dumont, principal at Sasaki Associates.

“When we were doing the framework study, we inventoried every single square foot of building space on this campus. The same thing must be done with the landscape of the campus,” Dumont said. “We did it with the architecture. We’re going to do it with the landscape architecture. That’s one of our goals.”

Dumont said the university needs to understand the condition of trees on campus and place a value on that inventory.

OSU is using i-Tree, software from the USDA Forest Service that analyses trees and their benefits, according to itreetools.org. A university team is using the software to determine the ecological services and dollar value of each tree on campus, Maloney said.

Many of the 32 trees labeled on the Oval have $200 to $300 in annual environmental benefits to the university, the city of Columbus and the community, said Jim Chatfield, OSU extension horticulture specialist.

“(Trees) are a part of infrastructure that grows and keeps paying off every year. It doesn’t depreciate; it appreciates in value,” Chatfield said.

OSU conducted an inventory of trees on the grounds and adjacent streets between 1995 and 2005, Stephen Volkmann, university landscape architect, said in an email.

During that period, 11,654 trees were inventoried, Volkmann said.

Michael Pedley, a fourth-year in forestry, fisheries and wildlife, said he is working on the university’s tree inventory project.

Pedley said the current inventory team has three or four people.

The university is working toward becoming a Tree Campus USA, a certification through the Arbor Day Foundation, Maloney said.

To become a “Tree Campus,” a university must have an active tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, an annual tree management budget, an Arbor Day observance and a tree related service and learning project for students, faculty and staff, Maloney said.

Maloney said OSU plans to become a Tree Campus this year.

The Arbor Day Celebration dedicated three Yellow Buckeye Trees, one for President E. Gordon Gee, one for “thee,” meaning you, and one for those who plant and take care of trees.

Chadwick Arboretum funded the total cost of the celebration, which was about $2,800, Maloney said.


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