Students at Cal State Channel Islands planting trees
Story Sustainability

CSU Campuses Earn Tree Campus USA Recognition

Alisia Ruble


Students at Cal State Channel Islands planting trees
​The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized four campuses as “Tree Campus USA” universities. CSU Channel Islands, CSU Northridge, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Sacramento State were honored for engaging staff and students in conservation goals and for their effective urban forest management.

Sacramento State first gained recognition as a Tree Campus USA in 2012 and has since developed a program called the Bioconversion and Agricultural Collaborative that recycles leaves and fallen trees into compost and mulch to be used throughout the campus.

Student volunteers, staff and faculty at CSU Channel Islands planted 70 more trees last year and aim to increase the campus tree canopy to 40 percent by 2020. The tree canopy, the percent of an area covered by the crown of a tree that helps reduce heat and provide wildlife habitats, is currently at 30 percent.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo celebrates its third consecutive year as a Tree Campus USA and boasts the largest variety of tree species on a university campus in the nation: 547 varieties, including 215 single-tree species.  

Volunteers at CSU Northridge planted hundreds of new trees last year and launched a major renovation of its five-acre orange grove, which provides over 18,000 pounds of Valencia oranges annually for local food pantries.
The preservation and advancement of urban forests is beneficial because trees help combat climate change, improve air and water quality, and conserve energy. Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, acknowledges that conservation efforts made now will provide benefits for generations to come.

"This diligence in improving the environment and ​quality of life contributes to a healthier planet for us all," says Lambe.

This diligence in improving the environment and quality of life contributes to a healthier planet for us all. 

Tree Campus USA is a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota to honor colleges and universities that promote healthy trees and encourage students, staff and faculty to join in the conservation effort. In 2016, Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $46.7 million in campus forest management. 

In order to be considered a Tree Campus USA, the universities had to meet the five standards set by the Arbor Day Foundation: hosting a tree advisory committee, having a campus tree-care plan, dedicating annual expenditures for its campus tree program, having an Arbor Day observance and engaging students in a service-learning project.

The CSU is dedicated to reducing the university’s impact on the environment and educating its students, faculty and staff on sustainable practices as part of its sustainability​policy.