Belmont University for the seventh year has been honored with the Tree Campus USA recognition for 2020 by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management. Tree Campus USA is a national Arbor Day Foundation program dedicated to honoring colleges and universities, as well as their leaders, for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.
Belmont’s application for a 2021 recognition will highlight the new Black Tupelo Tree planted in front of the Lila D. Bunch Library in time for this year’s April 30 Arbor Day observation. Also known as the black gum tree, the Black Tupelo’s foliage can range from bright yellow and orange to deep red and even purple all on one tree.
The planting of this new tree symbolizes Belmont’s dedication to sustainability and preserving nature for generations to come as reflected in the University’s Conservation Covenant. Additionally, Belmont recently announced two endowed funds for environmental science currently standing at more than $3.5 million that will support student scholarships and a new environmental science faculty chair as well as research and experiential learning opportunities. These funds were made possible by retiring Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher and his wife Judy Fisher as they seek to honor their late son Rob, a nature and conservancy advocate who passed away five years ago.
Dr. Fisher said, “We established our Conservation Covenant in 2015 to model for Belmont students and the broader community the imperative to care for God’s creation. I am so proud to see that message coming to fruition as we are recognized year after year with this honor. It’s our hope that the Belmont community continues in the pursuit of creating solutions to the environmental issues facing our planet today.”
Belmont maintains campus-wide sustainability efforts and has a number of green initiates that contribute to campus conservation including LEED certified buildings, educational and sustainable green roofs, geothermal heating and cooling systems and its Tennessee arboretum designation. Belmont students will also continue to work on tree-related projects this summer.
The National Arbor Foundation, which was founded in 1972, has helped plant more than 20 million trees since 1990. In order to achieve the Tree Campus title, Belmont met the program’s five standards which include observing Arbor Day, maintaining a tree advisory committee and campus tree-care plan, dedicating annual expenditures for a campus tree program and hosting student service-learning projects. This work also directly supports the Foundation’s Time for Trees initiative — an unprecedented effort to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspire 5 million tree planters by 2022, the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day.