UIC earns ArbNet Level II arboretum accreditation

This summer, UIC was approved for Level II arboretum accreditation through the ArbNet program. The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards. ArbNet is an online, interactive community of arboreta that was launched by The Morton Arboretum in April 2011 to support the common purposes and interests of tree-focused public gardens.

UIC’s arboretum offers a wide range of environmental, health and economic benefits, including improved air quality, increased mental and physical activity, and a sense of community with social connections. The UIC campus has nearly 34 acres of tree cover, which accounts for 37% of UIC’s green space. Approximately 26% of its arboretum is native to Illinois — a number the university hopes to increase with each tree planting.

“UIC is proud to be certified as a Level II Arboretum, said Cynthia Klein-Banai, UIC’s outgoing assistant vice chancellor and director of sustainability. “Our trees provide an environmental, social and economic value to the campus and surrounding community. We are committed to being a biodiverse campus as we serve our diverse student body, and this recognition confirms our commitment.”

The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is designed to recognize standards of excellence in tree-focused gardens and enable the conservation, collection and conservation of trees. UIC has a comprehensive Tree Care Plan and a goal to maintain as many mature, healthy trees as possible. Most of the trees at UIC consist of very mature and young trees that are highly vulnerable to climate change factors such as heat, drought and flooding.

In July, UIC’s grounds crew planted a mix of Hackberry, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Accolade Elm and Bur Oak trees south of the University Hall plaza and the geothermal well field. Of the nearly 3,700 trees on campus, the most noticeable are on the west side of campus, where a variety of young flowering ornamentals are growing under a broad canopy formed by 24 mature, healthy honey locust trees. Although honey locusts are abundant on the UIC campus and make up 18% of its total arboretum, these individual trees are highly valued not only at UIC, but by the near west side community.  They are prized for their aesthetic benefits, for the cooling shade they provide, and for their contributions to controlling water runoff, stabilizing the soil and sequestering atmospheric carbon.

To learn more about trees at UIC, visit the Sustainability website.

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