by India Westbrook

The natural beauty of the University of West Georgia is not just because of the beautiful flowers, it’s also because of the beautiful trees on our campus. This year, UWG received its fifth consecutive recognition from Tree Campus USA for its commitment to encouraging students and university personnel to care for our planet's tree resources.

Students walking outside on campus“Trees provide many benefits like oxygen, clean air, carbon storage and habitat for wildlife, and they increase property value and provide raw materials for nearly every industry in our country,” said James Hembree, grounds superintendent of horticulture and landscape for UWG. “Trees also help cool our buildings, which reduces air-conditioning costs, and they have a relaxing and calming effect on us that reduces stress and actually lowers our heart rates.”

The Tree Campus USA program supports colleges and universities around the country to establish and sustain healthy community forests. To receive this award, UWG had to meet the five core standards, which include establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

“We have a tree care plan for ongoing tree maintenance, newly planted trees and tree protection during construction,” Hembree explained. “We maintain a living tree inventory that, over the years, has been mainly developed by student assistants. We provide opportunities for student engagement through our annual Arbor Day and Earth Week tree plantings, which is sponsored by our campus sustainability office.”

Hembree said he’s devoted to caring for our trees and providing students with a better understanding of the purpose behind planting and how it can have a positive impact on our community.

“It's our responsibility to be good stewards of the environment while we are here and to convey that sense of responsibility to the next generations,” he concluded. “Tree Campus USA helps us do that.”

Posted on November 7, 2016