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While the Toomer’s Oaks are the most famous trees at Auburn, the university is known for many more than those two. From its collection of oaks to its crape myrtles, tupelos and poplars, the campus is blanketed by more than 130 different species.

To continue the tradition of broadening the university’s tree diversity, 104 more trees comprising 20 new species will be added this year to further diversify the school’s canopy.

“This year we are emphasizing species diversity,” said University Arborist Alex Hedgepath. “Species diversity should be a critical feature in any urban forest management plan, and this will take us one step closer to increasing the resiliency of our urban canopy.”

The university’s tree diversity certainly has been noticed. Hedgepath and other members of Facilities Management’s Landscape Services Department have pruned and planted their way to their 10th consecutive year of receiving the Tree Campus USA recognition.

“The Tree Campus USA designation is another way we prove our dedication to our overall campus tree care,” said Justin Sutton, superintendent of Facilities Management Landscape Services Department. “We continue to build our AUFM Landscape Services tree care team from what was just one employee, to as many as four by the end of this year focused solely on tree care operations. Trees are the backbone of our campus landscape. We love the large heritage trees we have and are equally excited about the trees we are planting for the next generation.”

Receiving the Tree Campus USA recognition is no small feat. An advisory committee must be created to provide guidance when dealing with campus trees in different capacities, and a campus tree care plan and program need to be maintained annually for work related to campus trees. Landscape Services maintains more than 600 acres on the main campus, home to more than 8,500 trees. Those trees are viewed and used by thousands of students and visitors every day. Those same trees house an estimated four million pounds of carbon dioxide and remove thousands of pounds of carbon from the atmosphere each year, as well as pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, creating an environmentally friendly sanctuary in the heart of Alabama.

This year, The Princeton Review named Auburn one of 413 Green Colleges related to sustainability policies, practices and programs, and it is one of only 385 campuses named as a Tree Campus USA.

“If ever there was a time for trees, now is that times," aid Lauren Weyers, program coordinator for the Arbor Day Foundation. "Communities worldwide are facing issues with air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being and energy use. Auburn University is stepping up to do its part. As a result of your commitment to effective urban forest management, you are helping to provide a solution to these global challenges.”

Each year, the Landscape Services Department on average plants 100 trees, not including trees planted for capital projects, more than 1,000 trees over a decade. A decade of receiving Tree Campus USA is a decade of careful planning, intense scrutiny and hard work.

“Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies, but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Because of Auburn University's participation, air will be purer, water cleaner and your students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty the trees provide.”