SIU earns Tree Campus Higher Education honors for ninth time

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s commitment to sustainability and green initiatives has once again earned national recognition as SIU has been named a Tree Campus Higher Education for the ninth year.

Each year, the Arbor Day Foundation chooses just a few hundred institutions of higher learning across the country for the select honor, previously known as Tree Campus USA. This year, SIU was among just 411 campuses to be recognized for its commitment to effective forest management.

“Southern Illinois University Carbondale is proud to receive the Tree Campus Higher Education designation for the ninth consecutive year,” said Mark Owens, director of facilities and energy management. “This recognition underscores our unwavering commitment to sustainability and effective forest management. Our campus is not just a place of learning but also a thriving ecosystem, where our diverse tree population enhances the beauty and environmental health of our university. We remain dedicated to fostering a green and sustainable campus for our students, faculty and community.”

To earn the designation, SIU had to meet five campus sustainability standards:

• Establish and maintain a tree advisory committee.

• Create and update a campus tree care plan.

• Sustain a campus tree program.

• Host an annual Arbor Day observance.

• Sponsor student service-learning projects.

Campus culture embraces trees

The flora and fauna are an intrinsic part of the SIU culture as the university has more than 5,200 inventoried trees, encompassing in excess of 150 different species on the 1,200-acre main campus alone. In addition, there are thousands of non-inventoried trees in the wooded areas around Campus Lake, Thompson Woods and auxiliary properties including the Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center’s 3,400 acres, located along Little Grassy Lake and the University Farms.

Hundreds of trees on campus are marked via a QR tree coding system, courtesy of the Tree Campus Advisory committee, Facilities and Energy Management staff and the SIU Forestry Club. By simply scanning the code, anyone can view photos and learn to identify various trees as well as discover numerous other details about their bark, fruit, leaves and other features.

In addition, SIU Arboretum also offers six self-guided tree identification tours, which are available for free viewing virtually or in person. SIU is the first Illinois university to earn Level II Arboretum Accreditation from the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. The campus is also featured in the Morton Register of Arboreta.

Enjoy an overview of SIU’s beautiful and extensive variety of trees by watching a Virtual Tree Tour or a 360 Degree Virtual Tree Tour.

Enduring commitment

The campuswide collaborative’s focus on sustainability education, community outreach and environmental stewardship is ongoing, officials said. Each spring, an Arbor Day tree planting is held, with campus and community members invited to participate. Campus and community outreach activities, such as a tree-walk for local school children, are held as well.

Learn more about the SIU Arboretum by visiting the website or by contacting the Facilities Operations Center at