Safety concerns prompt UC Davis to remove iconic Japanese Zelkova tree

Safety concerns prompt UC Davis to remove iconic Japanese Zelkova tree
UC Davis
Ryan General
September 15, 2023
UC Davis has started the removal of a beloved and iconic tree from its campus on Thursday, following the discovery of a deep fracture in its trunk.
A campus icon: The Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata) tree, which has stood by Lake Spafford since the 1960s, served as a cherished spot for picnics, graduation photos and community gatherings over the years. However, in August, concerns arose when a portion of its branches began to hang lower than usual. 
Attempts at rescue: Campus arborists promptly fenced off the area and attempted to alleviate the issue by removing part of the canopy. Tyler Kern, campus urban forester, noted that the 22-inch deep trunk fracture proved too severe to repair due to the absence of horizontal support tissue among its main stems, making the tree a significant safety hazard. 
Difficult decision: Due to its prominent location and potential risks, UC Davis’s senior leadership made the decision to remove the tree. Kathleen Socolofsky, assistant vice chancellor and director of the Arboretum and Public Garden, expressed the university’s sorrow over the decision.
“We love it as much as everyone else,” she said. “These choices are never taken lightly and reflect our commitment to the legacy and importance of our trees while ensuring the safety of our campus and community.”
Honoring the Legacy: UC Davis, which boasts over 24,000 trees in its urban forest, has a Campus Tree Renewal Program that ensures the consistent replenishment of its valuable tree canopy.
The university plans to involve the community in a planting event to pay tribute to the iconic Zelkova. Discussions are underway to select a replacement species and determine the timing for planting. The initiative aligns with the upcoming Arboretum Waterway Flood Protection and Habitat Enhancement Project, set to commence in the summer of 2024.
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