Louisiana Tech University’s Noble Trees project will reinvigorate the campus terrain, adding more trees to the landscape, while removing some that are nearing the end of their lives.
“The trees we’re replacing have lived hard lives, and they’re at the end of their lifespan,” said Dr. Joshua Adams, assistant professor of forestry and Homer T. Rogers Endowed Professor in Louisiana Tech University’s College of Applied and Natural Sciences. “Many are hollow, and they show significant signs of stress. The branches are dying back and falling, posing a safety risk in some instances.”
Many of the trees being replaced are water oaks, and these trees have an already short lifespan. According to the University of Florida Extension Service, many are hollow at 40 years old. The trees grow rapidly but only live 30 to 50 years on average.
Ironically, the growth our campus has experienced – with new buildings and sidewalks – can endanger the University’s trees, if they aren’t managed properly, Adams said. By the end of the Noble Trees project, more trees will have been planted than have been removed, and the community will have the beginning of a lush new environment to enjoy.
“Some of these trees – like the water oaks – are out of the native range of where they’re supposed to grow,” he added. “It’s a much better strategy to replant these trees and to preserve the health of all the landscape on campus. We’ll be planting Nuttall and Shumard oaks that are much more suited to this environment. These young trees are also more efficient at capturing carbon and cleaning our air.”
Improving the health of the campus landscape is the goal for a project students in one of Adams’ forestry classes are involved in. They are creating a map of Louisiana Tech University’s trees – hundreds of them – in order to monitor their health and well-being.
Students are marking each tree on a map using GPS coordinates and recording their size, type, approximate age and health. This map will enable future landscapers to plan for the future of the campus landscape.
“We can preemptively act to preserve the health of our campus trees,” Adams said. “This project will allow us to plan for landscape management and better care for our noble trees.”