Virginia Tech completes database of every single tree on campus

Published: Dec. 18, 2018 at 5:57 PM EST
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There are more than 8,000 living trees on tech's campus right now, a few hundred dead trees and a total of 10,000 cataloged over the last 10 years. But now the university essentially has a Rolodex of every single tree on the central campus, which they say is already being put to good use.

It's a gorgeous day on Virginia Tech's campus and the resident tree guy is taking in the view.

"It's pretty varied," he said of the campus foliage. "It's something like 200 species."

That tree guy is graduate assistant Peter Stewart, who has personally taken inventory of nearly every single living tree on tech's campus.

"Well I definitely got to know every corner of campus pretty quickly." he said.

He's helped finish work that started more than a decade ago in Professor Eric Wiseman's undergraduate class. It's an effort to document all the trees rooted on campus and those now long gone.

"First of all be able to understand what we have and where it is, and that becomes important for a lot of things that go on on campus," Wiseman said.

Professor Wiseman said this catalog of trees revealed more than 200 species, most of which are in good condition.

And he said it will help them care for and prolong the lives of the collegiate canopy.

"It also makes the campus more attractive and because we like to encourage people to walk around campus it provides some shade and visual interest as well."

But it's also forward looking. Wiseman says the university's planning department can use their tree map to design the future of tech's ever expanding campus.

"We'd like to retain the trees as assets," he said. "So knowing what they are and where they are is really important to doing that planning effectively for future construction."

The university is already using this as it plans construction for the Western Petimeter Road, which Wiseman said has lot of significant trees.

The university is also now looking to hire a campus arborist who will be in charge of the new database and making sure it's updated.