June 10, 2010
Wooster's trees provide a variety of benefits, including improved air quality and retention of storm water.
WOOSTER, Ohio - To the naked eye, the 3,000-plus trees that populate The College of Wooster's 320-acre campus appear to do little more than stand around all day. But, these storied timbers, which range in age from several months to several hundred years, actually provide a number of noteworthy environmental and economic benefits.
From hemlocks and maples to dogwoods and oaks, these lumbering giants are hard at work all day long, ingesting carbon dioxide, improving air quality, absorbing storm water, conserving energy, and, well, looking good.
A recent audit by Beau Mastrine and Mark Niemczyk of the campus grounds crew sheds new light on the net worth of these trees. For example, the shade they provide in summer and the wind resistance they afford in winter add up to considerable savings in energy costs. Likewise, the amount of carbon dioxide they remove from the atmosphere comes to more than 480,000 lbs. per year. In addition, the trees soak up in excess of 2.5 million gallons of storm water annually. There is also an aesthetic advantage estimated at more than $62,000 each year.
It all adds up to a total benefit that exceeds $200,000 per year, which is significant, but, as Niemczyk points out, the trees also possess a type of spiritual quality. "When I watch students walk under some of our giant oaks, it's almost as if they are entering a cathedral," he says. "They are quiet, solemn, and reverent, as if to acknowledge that many of these trees were here long before the College even existed."
Indeed these trees are older and almost as storied as Wooster's nationally renowned Independent Study program. Now, thanks to the audit, they are finally being recognized for their true value.
Occasionally, however, the trees need human intervention, and right now Mastrine and Niemczyk
are scrambling to save Wooster's stately ash trees from the menacing Emerald Ash Borer, which is wreaking havoc on campus and throughout the state. "This is a very serious threat," said Niemczyk who is injecting selected trees with insecticide. "These insects will eventually kill every untreated ash tree in the county. We are going to do everything we can to save as many of them as possible."
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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