Ecosystem services are benefits that society receives from the natural environment – for example, the pollination of crops contributes to food production, and trees pull carbon from the air. By 2025, Ohio State aims to increase the amount and performance of its available greenspace while creating new living lab learning and research opportunities for students and faculty.
The University Panel on Ecosystem Services, which included faculty, staff and students, made a series of recommendations that are being implemented across the Columbus campus. The university has developed a unique Ecosystem Services Index that defines 15 different metrics across four categories for campus improvement: protection and conservation of core ecosystems; stormwater management and water quality; vegetation, soil and biodiversity; and quality of life.
Additional accomplishments and initiatives
- Established an Ecosystem Services Assessment Tool as part of the Sustainable Design and Construction Policy that helps projects to enhance natural spaces as part of the design and construction process.
- An ecosystem analysis of trees on Ohio State’s Columbus campus evaluated the structural value, carbon storage and pollution removal of each tree.
- In honor of Earth Day and the university’s sesquicentennial in 2020, 25 trees were planted on each Ohio State campus, totaling 150 trees.
- University staff and researchers are installing a network of sensors to quantify and study the campus urban heat island effect.
- The university created new green space along the Olentangy River, including the planting of over 300 new trees in conjunction with the straightening of Cannon Road.
Ecosystem Services Index Baseline (2015): 28.7%
Ecosystem Services Index Performance (2020): 33.9%
Ecosystem Services Index Goal (2025): 85%
Ecosystem Services Increase (To Date): 18.1%
- Reduce the use of household chemicals and pesticides.
- Plant and care for a tree.
- Attend a litter cleanup at a local park or natural area.
- Increase the diversity of plantings using only native plants, which will create habitat for insects and animals.
- Advocate for greenspace and conservation areas.
- Volunteer with a local conservation group.
- Install green infrastructure for stormwater mitigation.
- Reduce heat island effect by providing shade (through trees or structures) over impervious surfaces.
ARTrees, an augmented reality app that enables uses to interact with trees on campus using data from the ecosystem analysis