The University of North Texas at Dallas celebrated Arbor Day by planting a newly-arrived 16-foot Monterrey Oak near the dormitory that was delivered by the Texas Trees Foundation, and reflecting on the unique urban forests that surround campus. It was another step in a multi-layered tree project that is committed to the beautification and preservation of the UNT Dallas landscape.

The Texas Trees Foundation (TTF) sustains tree-planting initiatives for neighborhoods, parkways and medians, schools and other public open spaces. UNT Dallas President Bob Mong worked with Texas Trees in 2015 to conduct a survey on the 264 acres that the University owns and is developing. The survey found the land contains over 68,000 trees, and these have a combined value of $53 million.

“These trees are a cherished asset,” Mong said. “We never want to forget that, and you don’t have to tell our students that. Our students really care about this land. As we continue to expand, our buildings will coexist with the surroundings in a beautiful, esthetic way. That’s what this is really about. All of us are thinking about how we manage this beautiful land in the years ahead.”

Mong was inspired by the beauty of other university campuses across the region, and also wants UNT Dallas to be a model for environmental sustainability in higher education, particularly new campuses.

“The University of North Texas at Dallas is an emerging university, and an emerging leader in environmental stewardship,” said Matt Grubisich, Director of Operations & Urban Forestry for TTF. “Being a leader is what being an educational institution is all about.”

Grubisich said 60 percent of the tree canopy in Dallas is in the South Dallas area, and it plays a key role in the livability and sustainability of the area. UNT Dallas students will be planting 1,000 saplings in the Cedar Crest neighborhood in the coming week as part of another TTF project.

“We are really excited to be a partner with this campus,” said Grubisich. “The leaders here think a lot about the future, and what’s going on outside of their classrooms.”