Vulnerability to Climate Change: Assessing Trees on the University of Oregon Campus
Jorgensen, Matthew R.
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Jorgensen, Matthew R.
Our climate is now changing at an alarming and measurable rate. The next century will bring changes with a speed we have not yet experienced, and it is imperative that we preemptively address projected effects. The focus of this project is on the rising temperature caused by climate change, and the associated impacts that come with it, as they relate to the trees of the University of Oregon campus. At this time, higher education institutions and municipalities are only just beginning to think about and establish plans regarding our long term landscape. Currently, the University of Oregon does not have an established method for identifying tree species which will be vulnerable to climate change. This has the potential to significantly alter the campus landscape, particularly with respect to prominent species. This project develops a matrix that can be used to identify tree species that are vulnerable to climate change, as well as evaluate potential replacement species. Application of the matrix identifies the three most prominent campus species (based on specimen count) that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change: Betula papyrifera, Acer platanoides, and Pseudotsuga menziesii. Pseudotsuga menziesii is used as an example to identify potential replacement species, followed by use of the matrix to select a replacement with reduced vulnerability to climate change. As large landscape plantings such as trees help to create a specific feeling of place, this project also explores the possibility of a changed campus character when transitioned to less vulnerable species. Replacement species selection is directed by finding candidates which have visual qualities similar to the vulnerable species, with the goal of minimizing a change to the current campus character. This is investigated through the use of hand and digital media to compare the qualities of the existing vulnerable species with those of the proposed replacement species. The method and application from this project are readily transferable to institutional and municipal settings in order to aid in: identifying species that are vulnerable to climate change, selecting and confirming suitability of replacement species, and visualizing replacement species in the landscape.