Urban Forestry

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is a community of over 64,000 students, staff and faculty.  It is the 3rd largest university in the nation. Situated on an urban campus it comprises 1,415 acres, over 500 of which are forested conservation areas, with the remainder being extensively landscaped with mature and growing trees.  An urban forestry program was established in 2004, along with a comprehensive Land Management Plan established in 2009, detailing the University’s commitment to ecosystem health and preservation. These plans provide the framework for implementing the urban forestry program and the basis for consistent decision making.

The University, through the Department of Landscape and Natural Resources, is working toward a more diverse and appropriate tree canopy on campus, with a preponderance of native trees and understory plantings.  Native plantings create a favorable canopy, while reducing irrigation and maintenance requirements, as well as increasing ecosystem health. Our university is continually taking steps toward connectivity in the urban forest canopy, along with campus beautification and promotion of native plantings. Our long-term landscape goal includes having a contiguous, mixed species canopy that promotes species utilization and Florida-Friendly TM plantings.

Additionally, the campus administration is committed to an environmentally-friendly campus landscape that will inspire its neighbors and the region to greater sustainability, and an ecological sense of place. The UCF campus is highly visible to the citizens of eastern Orange and southern Seminole counties, as well as visitors from across the region. We are committed to the education of the local community on the goals of the urban forestry program and the benefits of Florida-Friendly TM plantings.  Pedestrian numbers are high and constant in all parts of campus, thus promoting the educational value of the landscapes.

LNR has planted 300 trees on campus to create beautiful, environmentally-friendly landscapes around our stormwater ponds. Student interns designed the layouts, and are leading the efforts to install more than 600 plants around these important water features. To learn more about Urban Forest Management at UCF click here.

Hazard Trees Replaced on Campus

The Department of Landscape and Natural Resources has completed the removal of seven large trees from the central area of campus. Several professional arborists and urban foresters have evaluated the UCF tree canopy during the past year, and they identified several large Laurel Oaks (Quercus laurifolia) that needed to be replaced due to their potential hazard to people and property.  Laurel Oaks are a fast-growing, relatively short-lived, native oak species that typically live for about 50-70 years. Older Laurels typically begins to develop internal decay, and they can start to lose large branches, posing a threat to pedestrians, buildings and adjacent trees. The trees being removed from campus are considered ‘senior citizens’ for this species, and some have already dropped branches due to decay. Removed trees were located near Millican Hall, the Education building, and the Performing Arts Complex. We are sorry to lose these big, beautiful trees, but the campus will be safer and better off in the long term.

The removed trees have quickly been replaced with Live Oaks, Quercus virginiana, which are much longer-lived than Laurel Oaks, are more resistant to decay, and have better wind resistance during storms. These new high quality trees will add shade and beauty to the campus for many years to come. The image above shows the new trees in place.

UCF Tree Team at Work to Save Elms

The Department of Landscape and Natural Resources’ Urban Forestry Team are hard at work maintaining and managing the diverse tree canopy on the UCF campus. Recently, one project focused on improving the growing quality of several drake elms, Ulmus parviflora, planted in front of Classroom Building 1. These elms were struggling to thrive; inspection of the tree roots and planting media was needed to evaluate the reason for its slow establishment. With the use of an air spade, the soil was excavated from the planting containers without damaging any roots in the process. Once the soil was removed, it was obvious that the roots were not establishing themselves properly and were girdling the tree, or circling around the main stem. After the soil was removed, any circling roots were cut and new, healthier soil was added to encourage new root growth.

Oaks on Memory Mall

Twenty-five Live Oak trees have recently been planted along the edges of Memory Mall. These trees are Florida native Live Oaks, so they will not require excessive irrigation or maintenance once they have established themselves. The addition of trees to Memory Mall will help to lower the ambient temperature by providing shade, as well as sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and replacing it with oxygen.

A copy of our Campus Tree Care Plan may be found here .

A copy of the Florida Urban Forestry Council Newsletter may be found here.