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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh continues to prioritize trees in its outdoor landscapes.

All three UW Oshkosh campuses are recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservationism.

UWO’s Oshkosh campus has earned the Tree Campus Higher Education designation for 11 consecutive years; Fox Cities the past nine years; and Fond du Lac earned its first designation in 2019 after holding an Arbor Day Celebration.

For the 11th year in a row, the Oshkosh campus has earned the Tree Campus Higher Education designation.

“If ever there was a time for trees, now is that time. Your diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at your school contributes to a healthier, more sustainable world for us all,” said Lauren Weyers, program manager of the Arbor Day Foundation.

To obtain the distinction, UWO met the five core standards for sustainable campus forestry required by Tree Campus Higher Education. The standards include establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for a campus tree plan, an Arbor Day observance (optional in 2020 due to pandemic), and sponsorship of student service learning projects.

Brad Spanbauer, UWO’s campus sustainability officer, said sustainability is one of the University’s foundational elements.

“One of the ways we show our commitment to that is with our Tree Campus Higher Education designation,” he said.

Spanbauer notes one of the best ways to help mitigate the effects of climate change is to plant trees. Plants take in carbon dioxide and that carbon gets stored in their tissues as they grow. Globally, deforestation has decreased the areas where carbon can be absorbed and stored.

“Carbon from human combustion of fossil fuels in the form of carbon dioxide and methane has been building up in the atmosphere, trapping heat, and thus, leading to warming,” Spanbauer said, adding that tree planting needs to increase globally to help absorb the excess carbon in the atmosphere.

The Fond du Lac and Fox Cities campuses received acknowledgement of Tree Campus approval earlier this month.

Plans are being made for an event at 9 a.m. April 29 at St. Mary’s School in Menasha with UWO Fox Cities, to recognize Tree City, Tree Campus and Tree Utility.

On April 30, tentative plans are for UWO Fond du Lac to have a joint celebration with the city of Fond du Lac.

Tree-planting on the Oshkosh campus is planned for later in spring.

“Your entire campus community should be proud of this sustained commitment to environmental stewardship,” Weyers said.

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