CSUN Branches Out as a Tree Campus

Ruben Lopez, the assistant director for CSUN's grounds shop raises the Tree Campus USA flag this year. Photo courtesy of Austin Eriksson.

Ruben Lopez, the assistant director for CSUN’s grounds shop raises the Tree Campus USA flag this year. Photo courtesy of Austin Eriksson.

The Arbor Day Foundation has named California State University, Northridge as an official Tree Campus USA, one of 254 in the nation. CSUN earned the honor for the second consecutive year after receiving the recognition in 2015.

“It’s a great recognition for the campus to get because it shows our commitment to CSUN’s urban forests and our efforts to improve sustainability on campus through all facets of our operations,” said Austin Eriksson, CSUN’s program manager for sustainability. “We’re excited about it.”

An institution must fulfill five major requirements to be considered for the recognition. The standards include maintaining a tree campus advisory committee, following a campus tree care plan, providing annual dedicated expenditures, hosting an Arbor Day observance and providing service learning opportunities with urban forests.

CSUN’s tree campus advisory committee is made up of a faculty member, a student, several staff members and a community member that help advise on the proper care of campus trees. CSUN’s Department of Facilities Planning, Design and Construction as well as Physical Plant Management initiated the campus tree care. Each year, dedicated funds allocated to tree planting and maintenance support the tree care plan.

“Part of the campus tree care plan is maintaining a healthy urban forest,” Eriksson said. “If we have a tree that has an infection or a bark beetle or something like that, we may need to remove it. We can’t have trees failing because they could fall. … But whenever a tree is removed, we are planting two trees for every one we take down.”

The Orange Grove, at the south end of campus, is one of the areas where trees have been replaced due to their age. The CSUN Institute for Sustainability hosts regular orange picking events as a service learning opportunity, and the fruit is donated to local food banks. The next orange picking is at 8 a.m. on Sunday, April 3.

The campus also features four urban forest walks, providing students and local community members with information about trees and shade in between classes. Click here for a guide of the walks.

“It gets extremely hot here in the summer, so having trees that provide shade allows students, faculty and staff to enjoy being outside,” Eriksson said. “Also, many of the trees on campus actually provide shade to our buildings, so we’re able to take advantage of the cooling effect and reduce the mechanical cooling that is needed to keep our buildings comfortable.”

To highlight the importance of sustainability and the campus’ commitment to maintaining CSUN’s urban forest, Associated Students hold an annual Earth Fair, including an Arbor Day observance. This year, Associated Students will host the Earth Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 21 at Bayramian Lawn.

“Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment,” said Matt Harris, CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all.”

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