As the birthplace of Arbor Day, with a flagship Tree USA campus, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is has a reputation to protect and they do so by making a serious commitment to protecting the environment. This is why one of the seniors in their landscape architecture program initiated a campus-wide policy for replacing trees when it became necessary to remove trees for any reason. As a member of the Environmental Sustainability Committee, Lyle Janicek, noticed all the big structural and landscape changes occurring during his time on campus and, even though the University responsibly safeguarded the environment during these construction projects, he and the committee thought it would be a good idea to have a universal policy in place to guide changes, preserve important specimens on campus and replace trees when removal was necessary.
Janicek is collaborating with landscape services representatives, faculty and Association of the Students of the University of Nebraska to draft the tree replacement policy. The goal he is trying to raise support for is maintenance of the connection between students and faculty and the landscape. Assistant director of landscape services, Eileen Bergt, states that due to various on-campus construction and landscape projects and changing environmental conditions the University found it necessary to remove 679 trees over the past 5 years, but planted 954 trees on the City and East Campuses. She says that the unwritten rule is replanting trees at a 1:1 ratio, meaning at least one tree is replaced for any tree removed. And although efforts have exceeded this measure for project work over the past 5 years, Bergt agrees that having a policy for tree replacement in writing would help future projects remain within responsible limits and stay cognizant of their environmental responsibility.
This policy aims to address more than just tree replacement, but also would dictate standards for preservation of specimen trees and define the process for choosing trees for removal prior to new construction projects. This would add information to construction plans identifying trees to preserve and the protection measures to be taken prior to and during construction such as type of fencing, where it would be placed and where to stockpile materials for root zone preservation. Pre-construction planning with the addition of the tree replacement policy will account for environmental needs with biodiversity in mind. These measures will aid in keeping project developers and managers connected with environmental concerns by addressing questions of green space, biodiversity, tree preservation and replacement and their respective costs and benefits.