SOUTH BEND — Come spring, the main drag of Indiana University South Bend's campus is one of the more verdant stretches of town. Walking paths wind through blossoming bushes and trees. Rain showers imbue sprawling lawns with a deep green.

But students in professor Deborah Marr's ecology course are collecting data on problems targeted by the city of South Bend in landscapes where parking lots and pavement dominate. When that's the case, research finds, an area contains higher levels of carbon dioxide and heats up more severely on sunny days. In South Bend, swaths of post-industrial land on the west side experience the worst effects.

Marr is one of several professors advising the city on its plans to achieve a 40% urban tree canopy across South Bend by 2050.

Starting from an average canopy of 26% in 2019, according to city data, that goal will require city government and residents to plant nearly 95,000 new trees and between 30,000 and 60,000 additional trees to replace dying ones. Along with encouraging residents to plant trees, the city will match donations up to $50,000 to its urban tree canopy initiative.

"We have two major complex problems," Marr said. "One is climate change. The other is biodiversity. One of the things that we really need to do is rethink our urban landscapes."

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