The Arboretum is a place where I go running and enjoy some time with the green and peaceful scenery. Students use this space for ecological studies or just a place to hang out. It is a beautiful place for U of I students. Beyond what many of us know, there is a relentless invasive plant destructing those whose is in its way.
Kevin McSweeney is the direct of the University Arboretum. He applied for $50,000 to clear a lot of invasive species. Previously, the forest area was a research center. Since the researchers have left, the forest was neglected for 20 years and left the area vulnerable to the invasive honeysuckle. The honeysuckle is a thick-woody shrub that spreads aggressively through the under-story of woodlands, leave little sunlight for the rest of the vegetation in the forest. The crowding happened everywhere. It began to crowd out the native flowers, insects and mammals by limiting sunlight of
These images show the rate at which the honeysuckle grow (notice the denser forest floor only after four years).
Since SSC funding there has been major volunteer effort to clear the honeysuckle out, but the job is not done. The native species take time to come back naturally, and others Kevin’s team will manually introduce.
If you are interested in contributing the Arboretum health, the easiest way to get involved in contacting Kevin or Diane Anderson. There are classes that use the Arboretum ranging from architecture, NRES to ACES. The Arboretum runs paid summer internships for four to five students every year.
Community involvement is the most valuable protection for the Arboretum’s health. Public education programs allows members to truly value native species and want to participate in removal of invasive ones. People tend to do better by understanding the issue and demonstration that engages practices that promote biodiversity. These types of projects align perfect with the pillars of SSC. If you are a U of I student, faculty or staff and have ideas to make campus greener, please apply for SSC funding. Other opportunities include joining a working group that allocates funding to different projects. Please contact SSC for more information.