As the Arboretum continues to serve the University and Tuscaloosa communities through its facilities and programs, changes are underway to enhance visitors’ experiences and the Arboretum’s contributions to teaching and research.

By focusing on upgrades in technology, experiential learning, and environmental sustainability, the UA Arboretum will modernize its facilities, broaden its outreach to the University and Tuscaloosa communities, and create the infrastructure necessary to accomplish its goals for the future.

Long anticipated designs of a sustainable demonstration garden and educational space will be completed. The outdoor classroom will be powered by a new solar array, and rainwater will be collected from its roof. Plans for a restroom with a composting toilet will take shape as native solitary masonry bees are relocated from the cob house to an adjacent wall made with local materials.

• MODERNIZE sustainability through new technologies
• RENOVATE existing facilities

As the Arboretum expands its plant collection, the existing greenhouses will be replaced with a new building designed to meet the needs of contemporary researchers.  To demonstrate UA’s dedication to sustainability, a new education, conference, and visitor center will be built using the latest sustainability standards. By providing a space for events, classroom and research areas, exhibition and gallery spaces, and a plant conservatory, the Arboretum will continue to act as a gathering place and an educational destination.

• CREATE an atmosphere supportive of community education
• BUILD new features spotlighting native flora and fauna


The conservatory will house another new Arboretum feature: insects (bees, butterflies, and ants), reptiles, and amphibians will be on display in habitat exhibits. A soil window, or rhizotron, will be constructed in the facility’s basement to allow visitors to view life underground, including tree roots and invertebrates— a feature unique for its size and availability to visitors. Together with the existing Arboretum tree platform, the soil window will give visitors hands-on experience in both above- and below-ground ecology.

A playground, built from natural materials and designed to interpret nature education concepts, will be constructed adjacent to the new visitors center, expanding opportunities for families visiting the Arboretum.

In the short term, best practices for erosion control and maintenance will be used to enhance existing trails. Future plans include a reconfiguration of the trail network to better protect plants and wildlife and improve visitor access.

• INVEST in becoming a national leader for other public gardens
• CATALOG the wide range of plants and animals at the Arboretum

The University forester and College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff will assist in creating a forest assessment and management plan. The Arboretum’s vegetation and wildlife will be inventoried using state-of-the-art GPS mapping. With these assessments, plans can be made for forest restoration and habitat improvement to better support populations of native plants and animals. The species map produced by this inventory will be available to visitors in print, on the Arboretum website, and through an interactive mobile app.

• MAP the Arboretum to facilitate management and guide visitors
• GIVE BACK to the region with shared community projects