Grounds for Sustainability on Campus

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The grounds of college campuses are typically landscaped to be attractive and welcoming to students, faculty and visitors.  Over recent years, a new element has been added to the landscape equation:  sustainability.  Not only do sustainable horticultural practices provide greater respect for Mother Nature, but they also serve as educational tools. Other common benefits include reductions in maintenance and operation costs.

Several environmental issues are being addressed on an ever increasing number of campuses:  stormwater management, water conservation, reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers, native and invasive species of plants, and preservation of local ecosystems.

Northern Arizona University, for example, has implemented a comprehensive Campus Environmental Sustainability Plan that addresses a wide variety of issues.  Appropriate use of land, water and resources tops its list.  A reduction in emissions and pollution from landscape maintenance vehicles is also a priority.  The school has placed an emphasis on Xeriscaping with native plants and use of mulch and compost derived from forest restoration and thinning projects organized by the University.

Oregon State University has focused its efforts on the restoration of Oak Creek, which runs through campus.  As stated on OSU’s website, “Study zones along the creek can be designated for students to evaluate various restoration and protection methods, study riparian function and monitor stream improvements.”

Rockefeller University maintains its 14-acre campus in the heart of New York City using green strategies.  It has even incorporated a beautiful butterfly garden to attract native species.

Visit the Resource Center at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to see what other colleges and universities are doing to protect the environment for future generations.

photo courtesy of Rockefeller University’s website

Tag(s): Education, The Great Green Outdoors

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