Tree Preservation and Maintenance Policy



As the leading center for higher learning in southern Georgia, Valdosta State University recognizes its obligation to preserve and manage an abundance and diversity of trees on campus for the benefit of the public and future generations of students. By its example of environmental stewardship, the University will take the lead in promoting and developing a sound preservation ethic for the region's natural heritage. Included among the many benefits of preserving trees on campus and promoting additional plantings are: (1) improved air quality; (2) noise abatement and temperature amelioration; (3) mitigating the natural processes of water runoff, erosion, and sedimentation; (4) shading and consequently energy savings; (5) education; (6) aesthetics; (7) historical significance, and (8) intrinsic value.


It is the University's policy to preserve and manage all trees on campus, particularly species native to southcentral Georgia, in such a way as to minimize damage and prolong their life. Especially important are stands of mature native trees and native species no longer abundant on campus or in the area. Existing trees should not be removed for merely aesthetic, design, or landscaping reasons. Longterm plans should promote new plantings that will increase the diversity of native species (see Table 1), contain more canopy species, and enhance fall color.

As the campus continues to undergo development, special consideration must be given to the design and placement of new buildings so as to minimize the loss of trees. Existing trees must be taken into consideration before decisions about placement of buildings or other constructions are made, i.e., during or before the PreDesign Phase of new projects. Also, landscaping associated with new buildings or other constructions or renovations should be designed to replace as closely as possible the number and the species that were lost to construction, so that no net loss of trees occurs.


 Special Management Zones

 The following special zones are established on campus in order to protect and manage critical or sensitive areas of mature trees:

1) the entire stand of mostly mature longleaf pine, between Patterson Street and Oak Street,extending southward from Georgia Avenue onto the main campus. This stand predates the settlement of Valdosta, contributes substantially to the unique character of the University campus, and is especially vulnerable to changes in environmental conditions

2) stands of mature native trees along One Mile Branch, especially near the intersection of Patterson Street and Brookwood Drive

3) the mature mixed woodland at north campus bisected by Two Mile Branch

4) the dense woodland/swamp along the southern bank of One Mile Branch west of the Student Recreation Center parking lot.

Activities resulting in soil compaction, root damage, and depletion of air and water supply to the roots should be avoided in these zones. Also, thinning of groves, especially pines, increases susceptibility of remaining trees to storm damage and should be avoided. Specifically, the following practices are to be avoided, in proximity to trees which may be affected:

1) trenching, filling, or other soil disturbances

2) unabated erosion;

3) driving or operation of heavy equipment over the ground

4) parking of vehicles or heavy equipment

5) storage of materials

6) paving or introduction of impermeable surfaces on the ground

7) thinning of groves, especially pines.

 Preventive Maintenance and Care of Existing Trees

Prevention of tree damage or disease should be an ongoing commitment, particularly of older, still healthy trees. The following preventative maintenance measures will be taken to enhance the vigor and prolong the life of trees and to reduce susceptibility to disease and weather damage: 1) application of pesticide treatment; 2) aeration of soil within the drip line of trees where compaction has occurred; 3) bedding of individual trees or groups of trees to prevent future physical damage and soil compaction by mowers and other vehicles or equipment; 4) cordoning of driplines or critical root zones of trees with a 4foot high, highvisibility fence prior to the initiation of renovation or construction activities, according to the Community Tree Planting and Establishment Guidelines (Georgia Forestry Commission, 2002); 5) restriction of equipment and any construction and renovation activities from cordoned areas; 6) inclusion of language in contracts issued by the University, which prohibits construction and renovation activities from cordoned areas and specifies penalties for violations; and 7) application, as practicable, of special irrigation and root growth stimulator to individual specimen trees threatened by drought and/or root damage from soil disturbance activities associated with construction.

Due to the risk of long-term damage to our valuable pines from repeated exfoliation of bark and penetration of living tissue, no attachments of any kind, nor any destructive sampling, will be allowed on any pine tree on the VSU campus.

 Prior Consultation

The University administration shall work in consultation with the Campus Beautification and Stewardship Subcommittee of the Faculty Senate's Environmental Issues Committee in all PreDesign Phase and DesignPhase meetings involving the VSU Administration, campus planners, state officials, and private contractors, during which any decisions can and will be made affecting the fate of campus trees. This policy also designates Campus Beautification and Stewardship Subcommittee as the consultative body to be integrally involved in environmental, historical, and cultural impacts reviews of proposed campus projects as mandated by the Georgia Environmental Policy Act of 1991 (Georgia Code Title 12, Chapter 16).  

Before trees are removed or plans are finalized for tree removal, or for construction or other activities that may result in tree removal or potential tree damage, the Physical Plant Department will consult with the Campus Beautification and Stewardship Subcommittee of the Environmental Issues Committee, except in emergency situations, where imminent damage to property or individuals is involved. In the latter event, the subcommittee is to be immediately notified by the Physical Plant Department of the action to be taken.

 Reasons to be considered as valid for proposed tree removals will generally include the following:

1) prevention of the impending spread of disease by the affected tree

2) likelihood of imminent damage to property;

3) existence of a threatening safety hazard to individuals

4) any unavoidable constraints of construction or renovation that remain after completion of the planning and consultation requirements as specified above.


 Monitoring and Enforcement

The Physical Plant Department shall ensure that any trees scheduled to be removed after consultation shall be clearly marked at least 14 days before their scheduled removal and the Campus Beautification and Stewardship Subcommittee be notified and given the opportunity to inspect the marked trees before removal. For any construction projects, the Physical Plant Department shall ensure that driplines or critical root zones of trees are condoned as specified under Preventative Maintenance and Care of Existing Trees and shall periodically throughout the duration of the construction make arrangements for the Campus Beautification and Stewardship Subcommittee of the Environmental Issues Committee of the Faculty Senate to inspect the site and ensure that the protection provisions previously specified are being observed. If they are not being observed, the Physical Plant Department shall immediately report the failure to the contractor and/or the Georgia State Finance and Investment Commission official. In accordance with Board of Regents contracts, appropriate action will be taken to remedy the situation.

Table 1. Valdosta State University List of Recommended Native Trees & Shrubs

Acer barbatum Florida maple
Acer drummondii Drummond maple
Acer leucoderme chalk maple
Acer rubrum
red maple
Acer saccharinum silver maple
Aesculus parviflora bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus pavia red buckeye
Alnus serrulata alder
Amelanchier arborea downy serviceberry
Aralia spinosa devil's walking stick
Asimina parviflora dwarf pawpaw
Betula nigra
Bumelia lanuginosa gum bumelia
Carpinus caroliniana eastern hornbeam
Carya cordiformis bitternut hickory
Carya glabra pignut hickory
Carya myristiciformis nutmeg hickory
Carya pallida sand hickory
Carya tomentosa mockernut hickory
Castanea pumila chinkapin
Catalpa bignonioides Southern catalpa
Celtis laevigata hackberry
Cephalanthus occidentalis button-bush
Cercis canadensis redbud
Chamaecyparis thyoides Atlantic white cedar
Chionanthus virginicus fringe-tree
Clethra alnifolia sweet pepperbush
Cliftonia monophylla black titi
Cornus alternifolia alternate leaf dogwood
Cornus florida dogwood
Crataegus marshallii parsley haw
Crataegus phaenopyrum Washington thorn
Crataegus pulcherrima beautiful hawthorn
Cyrilla racemiflora white titi
Diospyros virginiana persimmon
Fagus grandifolia American beech
Fraxinus americana white ash
Fraxinus pensylvanica green ash
Gleditsia triacanthos honey-locust (thornless cultivar)
Gordonia lasianthus loblolly bay
Halesia carolina Carolina silverbell
Halesia diptera two-winged silverbell
Halesia tetraptera mountain silverbell
Hamamelis virginiana witch-hazel
Ilex opaca American holly
Ilex vomitoria yaupon holly
Illicium floridanum Florida anise
Illicium parviflorum star anise
Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola [=J. silicicola] southern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana eastern red cedar
Liquidambar styraciflua sweetgum
Liriodendron tulipifera yellow poplar
Lyonia ferruginea stagger-bush
Magnolia ashei Ashe magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora bullbay magnolia
Magnolia macrophylla bigleaf magnolia
Magnolia pyramidata pyramid magnolia
Magnolia tripetala umbrella magnolia
Magnolia virginiana sweetbay magnolia
Malus angustifolia southern crabapple
Morus rubra red mulberry
Myrica cerifera wax-myrtle
Nyssa aquatica water tupelo
Nyssa biflora swamp blackgum
Nyssa ogeche ogeechee gum
Nyssa sylvatica black gum
Osmanthus americanus [Cartrema americana] wild olive
Ostrya virginiana hophornbeam
Persea borbonia red bay
Persea palustris swamp bay
Pinckneya bracteata Georgia feverbark
Pinus echinata shortleaf pine
Pinus glabra spruce pine
Pinus palustris longleaf pine
Pinus serotina pond pine
Pinus taeda loblolly pine
Platanus occidentalis sycamore
Populus deltoides cottonwood
Populus heterophylla swamp cottonwood
Prunus alabamensis Alabama cherry
Prunus caroliniana Carolina laurel-cherry
Prunus serotina black cherry
Quercus alba white oak
Quercus coccinea scarlet oak
Quercus falcata Spanish red-oak
Quercus geminata sand live oak
Quercus hemisphaerica laurel oak
Quercus incana blue-jack oak
Quercus laevis turkey oak
Quercus laurifolia diamond-leaf oak
Quercus lyrata overcup oak
Quercus margarettae sand post-oak
Quercus marilandica black-jack oak
Quercus michauxii swamp chestnut-oak
Quercus muehlenbergii chinkapin oak
Quercus pagoda cherrybark oak
Quercus phellos willow oak
Quercus shumardii Shumard oak
Quercus stellata post oak
Quercus velutina black oak
Quercus virginiana live oak
Rhamnus carolinianus [=Frangula caroliniana] Carolina buckthorn
Rhapidophyllum hystrix needle-palm
Rhododendron canescens pink honeysuckle
Rhododendron viscosum swamp azalea
Rhus copallinum winged sumac
Rhus glabra smooth sumac
Robinia pseudoacacia black locust
Sabal minor blue-stem palmetto
Sabal palmetto cabbage-palm
Salix caroliniana Carolina willow
Salix nigra black willow
Sambucus canadensis elderberry
Sassafras albidum sassafras
Serenoa repens saw-palmetto
Stewartia malacodendron silky camellia
Styrax americana American snowbell
Styrax grandifolia bigleaf snowbell
Symplocos tinctoria horse-sugar
Taxodium distichum var. distichum bald cypress
Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium [=T. ascendens] pond cypress
Tilia americana basswood
Ulmus alata winged elm
Ulmus americana American elm
Ulmus crassifolia cedar elm
Ulmus rubra slippery elm
Ulmus serotina September elm
Vaccinium arboretum sparkleberry
Viburnum nudum possum-haw
Viburnum obovatum Walter's viburnum
Viburnum rufidulum rusty black-haw

Amended and Passed by VSC Faculty Senate: May 27, 1993
Adopted as VSU Policy 27 July 1993, according to VSU Statutes, Chapt. 4, Art. I, Sect. 3.
Revised by the Environmental Issues Committee: 9 May, 31 May, 2 November 2000.
Amended and adopted by the VSU Faculty Senate 15 February 2001.
Adopted as VSU Policy 16 April 2001, according to VSU Statutes, Chapt. 4, Art. I, Sect. 3.
Draft Revision 02.09.2007, 03.22.2007, 04.20.2007, 03.06.2012