Abilene Christian University

Campus Tree Inventory & Ecosystem Services Benefits Report

The campus of Abilene Christian University (ACU) is located in the sprawling urban city of Abilene, Texas.  Located in the heart of “Big Country,” ACU’s campus sits in the midst of the Rolling Plaines and is an oasis of green comprised of 2,136 trees.  To better understand the role trees, play on campus, a partnership between Abilene Christian University and Texas Trees Foundation was created to inventory and study the shade and ornamental tree species growing on the campus grounds.  This study is an effort to:

  1. Determine the actual size and scope of the urban forest on the campus of ACU
  2. Catalog each campus tree based on species, size, and location
  3. Determine the ecosystem service benefits and replacement value which the trees provide to the ACU community
Importance of trees

Trees are one of the most effective ways to bring about widespread improvement in the environment and the quality of life of a community. Even in a metropolitan area like Abilene, where the grey infrastructure far out weights the green, trees play a major role in regulating temperature, improving air and water quality and increasing energy savings. One visit to ACU and you immediately know that trees add significantly to the beauty of the university campus and the quality of life of its students, faculty, and visitors. With its abundance of trees and beautiful landscaping, the university has excelled in building a Green Infrastructure for which it can be proud. Now, by utilizing state of the art technology and i-Tree software protocols, ACU is in a position to better manage this asset and help ensure a sustainable, healthy, well-treed campus for decades to come.

Impact of campus trees

By understanding the structure, function, and value of an urban forest, Facility Services, the Office of Planning, Design, and Construction, and other departmental services can promote better management decisions that will improve the overall health and safety of urban trees. By promoting better management decisions, stakeholders can share with the public the knowledge that trees are a capital asset to the community. With sound planning and good decision making, newly planted and existing trees will continue to grow, thrive and lessen the probability of causing future problems or conflicts. Moving away from a reaction based management program to a pro-active approach will ensure a healthier and safer campus and, over time, will reduce management and maintenance costs.

Key Findings
  •  Number of trees: 2,136
  • 10% Canopy Cover
  • Most common species: live oak, crape myrtle, pecan
  • Over 50% of the trees are between 4-12 inches in DBH (Diameter Breast Height)
  • Of the 2,136 trees, 1,709 are in fair to good condition
  • Carbon Sequestration: 542,650 pounds per year (value: $4,070/year)
  • Carbon Storage: 4.6 million total pounds stored (value: $34,400)
  • Energy Savings: $13,584 each year
  • Annual Rainfall Interception: 3.6 million cubic feet per year (value: $35,799/year)
  • Structural value: $2.65 million
  • Landscaped Appraisal Value: $7.9 million
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