Celebrating CSUN’s Roots

An Indian Laurel Fig tree near Chaparral Hall

No matter where one might be on the CSUN campus, it’s impossible not to feel the presence of trees. With over 4,000 trees across more than 200 different species, CSUN’s urban forest adds incredible value to the campus. These massive living organisms shade buildings and outdoor spaces, provide evaporative cooling, enhance soil health and stability, filter pollutants from the air and water, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, provide habitats for birds, mammals, and insects, and in many cases, even produce food.

Significant efforts have been made to protect, promote, and expand CSUN’s urban forest by not only the CSUN’s Grounds department, but also faculty and students. The earliest effort to catalog the campus’ trees was made by Dr. Robert Gohstand in 1989 when he created a campus tree inventory. This inventory was recreated and expanded in 2010 by then Institute for Sustainability Director Dr. Helen Cox and a team of students in Geography courses. Since then, it has been updated regularly by Geography students who use the opportunity to expand their skills in GIS while also contributing to a valuable campus resource. CSUN’s tree atlas enables the campus to track the removal and installation of trees, and easily access data regarding the number and locations of a given species, overall number of species and individuals, trees dedicated to or donated by certain individuals, and other attributes of the urban forest.

Closeup of a Bunya Pine south of Bayramian Hall

While CSUN’s public-facing tree atlas has previously been a static document, recent GIS tools have enabled it to be published online, along with other resources including self-guided tree walks, faculty research and student projects, photos, and other educational content. This online resource can also be updated more easily, so that viewers always have access to the most recent version of CSUN’s tree inventory.

For regular campus users, it can be easy to take trees, even 4,000 trees, for granted. CSUN’s new tree atlas was designed to highlight the importance and irreplaceable value that these organisms provide, and inspire even the most seasoned campus members to see them through new eyes.

Explore CSUN’s new campus tree atlas here: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/526da5fce7e34252b00ef405d6d58573

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