Project aims to inform about campus trees

A growing project aims to develop an appreciation and understanding of the natural world located on campus.

The Arboretum project, led by Provost Nowell Donovan, will begin this summer in an effort to learn more about and recognize some of the types of trees on campus, Donovan said.

The project is part of a state organization called the Great Tree Ring that consists of people concerned with botanical education, Donovan said. Campus botanists discovered that there are 40 different species of trees on campus, he said.

Donovan said his plan is to post signs or plaques next to certain trees to explain what they are, their Latin name and a few facts about them. He also plans to produce a Web brochure or catalog so anyone interested can learn about them, he said.

“Instead of them simply being trees, they will be something you can learn from,” Donovan said. “Let’s use them as an educational tool.”

Donovan first had the idea last year, but plans to begin work in the summer and roll it over into the fall semester so students can be involved, he said.

Some have called an elm tree near Brite Divinity School the best American elm in northern Texas.

Donovan said that the university has a few celebrities in the tree world.

“You hear lots of stuff about the campus being beautiful,” Donovan said. “Well let’s make it interestingly beautiful.”

The only real cost of the project will be making and placing plaques, Donovan said. He said the costs should be covered through internal funds from the university.

“In terms of educational benefit it is rather inexpensive,” Donovan said.

Becky Richards, a professor of environmental science who is involved with the project, said plans for the project may include a walking path around campus to introduce people to various tree species. She also said there is a debate about including native trees to Texas, non-native or both in the project.

“I really like the idea of getting people at the campus to get out and walk among the trees and find the information about these tree species as they walk,” Richards said. “It will be good for everyone to look, learn, see, feel and experience. That sort of outdoor learning opportunity really sticks to people’s minds.”