Topic: Administrative

August 19, 2015

arboretum accreditation

Ball State’s tree inventory, walking paths, and other educational materials secured Level II accreditation from the global arboreta network ArbNet.

Walks around Ball State will offer more than a great view, thanks to efforts of university facilities planning and management staffers who led the charge to establish a campuswide arboretum. A detailed tree inventory, five walking paths, and other educational materials combined to secure the university’s Level II accreditation via ArbNet, a global network for arboreta.

The drive for accreditation came from a desire for folks to immerse themselves in the campus’s beauty and learn more about the more than 7,400 trees that represent nearly 320 species, said Michael Planton, associate director for landscape and environmental management.

“Five tree trails have been designed and implemented across the main body of the campus for the enjoyment of our students and educators, but also for members of the larger community,” he said. “The trails are open year-round, so people can see the trees in full bloom in spring, watch them turn color in the fall, then enjoy the leafless beauty they provide in wintertime.”

The tree trails average about one mile in length with about 30-40 trees per trail; maps can be downloaded.

Planton said Dan Lange, a graduate student in geography, led the data collection for the tree inventory, a key component for accreditation.

The goals of ArbNet accreditation are:

  • foster the establishment and professionalism of arboreta
  • identify arboreta where people can participate or collaborate in scientific, collections or conservation activities
  • advance the planting, study and conservation of trees to improve the world

About 100 places in the U.S. bear the ArbNet accreditation, including 12 in Indiana. Ball State is the first school in the Mid-American Conference, and the second in Indiana, to obtain Level II accreditation.

Planton says the walking routes offer a living laboratory for educators, especially with the tree inventory data.

Future plans include developing an interactive app that will offer visitors real-time information along the routes.