Creating Canopy Initiative Helps Penn Earn Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA Designation

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Media Contact:Julie McWilliams | | 215-898-1422April 9, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -- Creating Canopy: Spreading Roots for a Greener Region, a program that Penn initiated in the spring of 2011 in partnership with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department has helped the University earn its third consecutive Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. 

Tree Campus USA is a national program the foundation launched in 2008, sponsored by Toyota Motor North America Inc., to honor colleges and universities for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

“In announcing the 2011 designees, the foundation said it was honoring Penn for its commitment to effective community forestry management,” Bob Lundgren, the University landscape architect, said. “Among other initiatives, the Creating Canopy tree giveaway for city residents last year was definitely one of the reasons we received the recognition.”

The Creating Canopy tree giveaway was a pilot for Penn employees who live in Philadelphia. This year’s program was extended to include faculty and staff who live in surrounding suburbs through an additional partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.  The supply of trees destined for the suburban giveaway are sold out, but there are still trees available for staff who are city residents, provided they sign up before the extended deadline of April 13.  

Five other campus feature initiatives that helped Penn earn the Tree Campus USA recognition include:

  • Upgraded and revised tree inventory: Penn plans to install radio frequency Identification chips into every tree on campus so an inventory can be updated with a quick scan.
  • Comprehensive tree map: All collected tree information will be used to develop campus tree maps, including fall and spring color displays, tree age, true canopy widths and native and non-native tree canopy.   
  • Sustainable Sites initiative: Penn’s Shoemaker Green project is a pilot for a program for landscaping certification similar to the LEED accreditation system for buildings. This allows Penn to ensure that all future projects with a landscape component comply with SITES goals.
  • Penn Class Tree Program: The University is striving to create projects and opportunities for collaboration between as many relevant campus groups as possible, including the Penn Environmental Group, the Student Sustainability Association at Penn and Eco-Reps, as well as local groups like UC Green and the Morris Arboretum. 
  • Outreach and Communication: Publicity of Penn’s Tree Care Plan showcases established guidelines in campus development planning and sustainability efforts to the University community so that all members can be informed stewards of campus trees. A Tree Care Plan will be produced and disseminated through print and online publication sources of the staff and students.

“Achieving Tree Campus USA recognition sets an example for other colleges and universities and allows students a chance to give back to both their campus community and the community at-large,” said John Rosenow, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.