Tree planting program aims to double canopy coverage

With the lifting of Georgia’s drought and its watering restrictions, campus landscaping has resumed a freer role. The Office of Development has partnered with Capital Planning and Space Management to launch a new commemorative tree planting program whose primary objective is to beautify Tech’s landscape.

The program was inspired by the late Bruce Edwards, a Tech alumnus and dedicated football fan who wanted to plant a tree on campus in his memory. Although he passed away before a suitable location and tree could be selected, his wish prompted the creation of a commemorative tree planting program as part of the Campus Beautification Program. The initiative also fits in with the Institute’s master plan for landscaping, which aims to more than double the campus canopy coverage to over 55%. In 2004, this number was 15-18%.

“Every year, old trees are removed due to disease, drought, or storm damage. The Campus Beautification Program is one important way that we can replace lost trees and enhance the character of Tech by providing shade and seasonal color,” said Anne Boykin-Smith, master planner in Capital Space and Management.

“Tech has nearly 6,000 trees on campus, and Landscape Services has been very proactive in monitoring trees for old age and disease,” Boykin-Smith said.

Currently, individuals who wish to participate in the commemorative tree planting program cannot select an existing tree on campus but instead fund the planting of a new tree and the installation of a nearby bench with a personal plaque. The tree can be planted to commemorate a special event or in honor of living or deceased alumni, family members, or friends connected with Tech.

There is a fixed number of tree types from which to select, including the ginkgo, tulip poplar, redbud and Japanese maple. All of these species are suited to Atlanta’s climate and are slow-growing trees that will remain for hundreds of years.

Donors will be expected to provide a one-time gift of $10,000 to fund the planting of a commemorative tree and bench, as well as their future maintenance. In the future, donors will also be able to select a location from a “Proposed Campus Commemorative Tree and Bench Plan”.

“We’ll work with donors to find the perfect location where they would like their tree and also where we need to plant trees, for shade or decoration. Our landscape master plan provides guidelines for this,” said Kara Ansotegui, Associate Director of Development Stewardship.

In addition to the long-lived tree types available in the commemorative planting program, ornamental trees will also be planted that grow faster and provide a more immediate canopy.

“The plan is an opportunity to recognize individuals while benefiting shade and landscaping on campus,” Ansotegui said.