For the ninth consecutive year, the Arbor Day Foundation has designated Bellarmine University a Tree Campus USA.
The designation, which Bellarmine first earned in 2014, “is an acknowledgement of our commitment to protecting our extensive tree canopy,” said Dr. Kate Bulinski, associate professor of Environmental Studies
. “Our participation also requires us to annually recommit our efforts for enhancing the beauty and biodiversity of our campus.”
Trees aren’t there just to be pretty, though. “They also sequester carbon, provide habitat for local wildlife, reduce flood risk, reduce pollution, and combat our urban heat island effect,” Bulinski said. “And with the loss of
many century-old trees across the city in our recent spate of windstorms, it is more important than ever to add to our campus tree canopy.”
The Tree Campus USA designation means that Bellarmine continues to meet the following five core standards for sustainability of campus forestry:
- Establishing a tree advisory committee
- Providing evidence of a campus tree care plan
- Dedicating annual expenditures for its campus tree program
- Having an Arbor Day observance
- Sponsoring student service-learning projects
Last fall, Bellarmine organized a Tree Pilgrimage in which participants took a walking tour of campus trees, learning about their biological significance from Dr. David Robinson, emeritus Biology faculty member. Each stop was accompanied by poems, prayers
and meditations read by students, faculty and staff.
“Our trees are a large part of what makes our campus landscape distinctive and special,” Bulinski said. “Anyone who has visited campus in mid-to-late October has seen the breathtaking display of fall colors in the red maples along Bellarmine
Boulevard. My favorites, though, are the shagbark hickory at the Bellarmine Farm, the white oak outside of Centro Hall, and the catalpa adjacent to the Franciscan Circle.”
Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation is responsible for planting and distributing 500 million trees around the world. In 2008 the foundation formed the Tree Campus Higher Education program to promote campus forestry initiatives across the country.
“In addition to adding broadly to our campus tree canopy, part of what we hope to accomplish in the years to come is to add to the fruit-bearing trees on the Bellarmine Farm,” Bulinski said. Along with the shagbark hickory, “we already
have pear, apple and pawpaw trees. Serviceberry, persimmon, elderberry, mulberry and figs are next on the list!”
On April 15, Bellarmine will participate in TreeFest, an Arbor Day Celebration, in Joe Creason Park. The event, presented by partners including TreesLouisville, Louisville Parks and Recreation and the Jefferson Memorial Forest/Natural Areas Division,
will include a volunteer tree planting event, a tree giveaway, family-friendly activities and guided nature hikes as well as music, food and drink.
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