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What’s Going On with the Trees on Campus?

Why is it necessary for the university to be cutting down so many trees?

We are replacing our mall oak trees due to various issues.  Many of the trees are in such poor condition due to age, disease, fungus growth, structural damage and decay that we have been forced to be proactive with them rather than reactive, for both safety and aesthetic reasons.  In other words, rather than waiting for a tree to die and fall, we have decided to replace entire sections of trees with new oaks, all at once, over a period of time.

What will that process look like?

The new sections of trees will be planted on a wider spacing to allow for wider growth over time.  The trunks of the new oaks are generally 6-8 inches in diameter and the trees stand 30-40 feet tall when planted.  These oaks are fairly slow growing, which ideally allows them to live more than 250 years.  The replacement program is in its fourth year and we estimate the entire mall replacement will take another eight years or so to complete.  Hopefully, by Furman’s bicentennial year—2026—the entire mall will have new trees.

What is being done with the wood from the trees that are being cut down?

Most of the wood chips are being aged for mulch, some of which will be used on campus, but most will be used elsewhere.  Some of the solid trunks will be sawed for making mantles, furniture, etc.

What is the long-range plan for replacement of all the trees, and how long will it be before the campus begins to look like it used to?

All the trees on the main mall will be replaced by about 2024.  Because we are planting 30-40 foot tall trees, the aesthetic will be similar to what we have now—just a little bit lower in height.  For these trees to grow to 70 feet tall, it will probably be 25 years or so before they reach that height.  But we need to remember that when the original trees were planted on campus they were about 10 feet tall and took almost 50 years to grow to their maximum height.  I just spoke with John Plyler, who was here back in the 1950s with his father (Furman’s president at the time), and he said the campus felt very open for many years.

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