Biodiversity & Landscape

Caring for the land and species that care for us

Emory’s campus includes some of the most biodiverse forest inside Atlanta’s I-285 perimeter and has long been considered “a campus in a forest.” A 2016 study of higher education institutions ranked Emory fifth in the U.S. among 103 research universities for “greenness of campus,” and linked this attribute to higher student satisfaction rates. Emory’s long history of land stewardship continues with progressive goals and strategies that utilize new and emerging technologies.

So Far

  • In 2014, Emory University became the first campus in the nation to adopt a comprehensive pollinator protection plan, which bans the use of neonicotinoids – a group of pesticides contributing to decline in pollinator species.
  • Almost half of Emory’s campus is protected land. Streambank buffers and forests on campus have unique ecological values and contribute to campus identity and quality of life.
  • Beginning in 1999, a University policy required that campus land suffer “No-Net-Loss-of-Forest-Canopy,” ensuring every time a tree is removed, trees are replanted.


  • In 2022, Emory University updated its Land Classification Plan that delineates preserved, conserved, managed and developable land.
  • Through its Forest Management Plan, Emory is committed to restoring and maintaining the connectivity of its forests within the context of the Georgia Piedmont origins.
  • Emory’s building design guidelines include strategies for reducing heat island effect, reducing the use of potable water for landscaping irrigation, planting native drought-tolerant plant species, reducing impervious surfaces, increasing on-site infiltration, reducing, or eliminating contaminants from runoff, and stormwater harvesting.
  • Emory’s Lullwater Preserve – a public greenspace with trees, lawns, and a lake – is home to an English Tudor mansion where the University president lives with at least 175 wildlife species as neighbors.
  • Leaves, grass, and plant trimmings are collected and composted. Through the composting process, the materials become soil amendments that Emory is buying back for landscaping gardens and for the Educational Garden plots – bringing materials full circle.
  • Emory’s Exterior Services team has inventoried over 1,000 trees on Emory’s campus using TreeKeeper software, which allows us to track carbon sequestration, energy benefits, and more.
  • As of 2019, the Emory University Department of Exterior Services is transitioning to a more widespread use of electric leaf blowers as gas-powered blowers go out of commission. Electric blowers burn less fossil fuel, emit less greenhouse gases, are quieter, and are easier to maintain since they have no combustion engine. During peak leaf season, however, gas-powered blowers will still be needed for large masses of wet leaves, since they are slightly more powerful.
  • The Educational Garden Project exposes members of the community to different aspects of sustainable land management, including mulching, no-till horticulture, and composting. The pollinator garden at Cox Bridge is a part of the Rosalynn Carter Pollinator Trail.
  • Re:Wild is a student-led group working to transition landscape space on campus from synthetically managed to organically managed.


Caring for and improving the bio-diverse environments and species that we all need to be happy and healthy is a priority for Emory University. By 2025, Emory will:

  • Eliminate planting of invasive species on campus to foster healthy campus forests and remove invasives in at least 25 percent of campus forests.
  • Enhance pedestrian shade by planting 200 new trees by Emory’s 200th anniversary.
  • Improve water quality, groundwater recharge and greenspace through new or enhanced green infrastructure such as rain gardens, stream buffers and bioswales.
  • Reduce turf grass on Druid Hills and Oxford campuses by 15 percent and replace with biodiverse woodland and shrubbery areas.