In a partnership with the North Carolina Forest Service during the 2012-2013 academic year, Linden Blaisus ‘11 and the Landscaping Crew conducted an assessment of the vegetation composition, function and value of the urban forest on center campus. Analyses of these data provide insight into the value of the center campus trees: their monetary worth, carbon sequestration/storage, structure and ecosystem function. These analyses will be used to guide future management decisions with the goal of improving human health, environmental quality, and aesthetic value.
The study area for the center campus tree inventory covers 59 acres of land surrounding the academic, administrative, and student residence buildings. This 59-acre center campus is stratified into two land types – 39 acres of landscaped/built campus grounds and 20 acres of semi-intact forest. A complete census of every tree with diameter at breast height (DBH) 2-inches or greater was conducted in the landscaped area; representative plot sampling was conducted in the forested area. All data were analyzed using the I-Tree Eco model developed by the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station.
1,153 trees were individually measured and cataloged in the landscaped area census. In total, 135 unique species are present within this landscape, the most numerous being flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) followed by eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and norway spruce (Picea abies). The center campus also contained rare trees like the Scholar Tree (Styphnolobium japonicum), Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), and a Korean Oak (Quercus glandulifera). The total structural replacement value for these landscape trees is $2.11 million; they sequester 12 tons of carbon every year, and store 480 tons of carbon in their wood.
Only a third of the center campus study area is forested, but within that forest there are 8,760 trees, over seven times the number in the landscaped area. Adding the value of the forest trees brings the total structural replacement value for all center campus trees to $11.04 million. The combined carbon sequestration for the landscape and forest trees is 68 tons per year; the combined carbon storage is 2,419 tons, equivalent to the carbon emissions of Warren Wilson College for 202 days.
If you would like to learn more about this project, downloadable maps, reports, and GIS shape files are available at www.warren-wilson.edu/~treemap.