University Furthers Tree Conservation Efforts


Fordham kicked off its involvement with a tree advocacy group on April 17 with the planting of a four-year-old pin oak tree just south of Keating Hall on the Rose Hill campus.

The 15-foot high, 800-pound tree was one of several dozen American Elms, Red Maples, Northern Red Oaks and Japanese Maples being grown in a former orchard at the Louis Calder Center in Armonk. Many perished as a result of the high winds and heavy rains of Hurricane Sandy. But several pin oaks survived, and this one was transported to the Bronx campus to take up a new home.

Fordham’s Facilities Management and the United Student Government’s (USG) Sustainability Committee orchestrated the planting. It marks the University’s inaugural participation in Tree Campus USA.

A pin oak is lowered into its new home south of Keating Hall. Photo by Jill Levine

Launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation, Tree Campus USA is designed to help colleges and universities promote tree conservation and act as a catalyst for fostering student engagement.

Gerardo Galliano, campus operations manager in Facilities Management, said he hopes more events such as this one, in which ceremonial shovels of dirt were heaped on the root ball after a front loader lowered the tree into a hole, encourage the University community to recognize the importance of tree conservation.

“It also allows students and administrators to participate in something in what would normally just be a facilities function,” he said.

Marco Valera, vice president for Facilities Management, said the planting was part of the University’s ongoing tree conservation efforts. The 90-acre Rose Hill campus is home to about 500 trees, including a 270-year old American Elm that the University is lobbying to have listed on the National Register of Big Trees. He noted that this is a great way to celebrate Earth Day, which falls on Wednesday, April 22.

The University also established an official tree advisory committee last month, submitted a comprehensive campus tree conservation and action plan, and dedicated annual expenditures specifically geared towards tree/forest conservation efforts on campus. Friday’s planting was part of an Arbor Day tree planting observance that will take place annually.

Nick Rapillo and Katherine Sitler-Elbel, freshmen at Fordham College at Rose Hill, joined two other students at the planting.

Rapillo, a Trumbull, Connecticut native whose interest in the environment was sparked by membership in the Boy Scouts, has picked environmental studies for his major. He also hopes to double major in urban studies.

The pin oak at the Calder Center <br>Photo by Tom Daniels

“I’m hoping to combine the environmentalist ideas in urban areas, so this this kind of event fits that,” he said

Sitler-Elbel, an environmental science major, moved to New York from Dallas because she said she wanted to live in a place that is “more progressive” in environmental issues.

She led a student service-learning project that surveyed the neighborhood adjacent to the Rose Hill campus to identify empty plots along sidewalks and roadways where a tree once stood. Students identified 20 spots within a mile-long loop where trees could be planted; they plan to submit the information to the city’s Million TreesNYC program.

“People underestimate trees’ importance,” she said, noting the benefits of shade and oxygen they provide. “People see the, and they think they look nice, but they don’t realize how much they give back.”