Korean collection at The Morton Arboretum (2014-09-09) by The Morton Arboretum and Earl Richardson, independent contractorThe Morton Arboretum
Trees are the cornerstone of Earth's ecosystems
They provide habitat for animals and other plants. We need them. Despite their critical importance to people and ecosystems, at least 10 percent of the world’s roughly 100,000 tree species are threatened with extinction.
Trees make our lives better in ways we may not notice. They clean air, store carbon, and provide food, timber, fuel, and medicine. Scientists call these benefits “ecosystem services.” Humans would have to pay billions of dollars for these services if we let our trees die.
Trees are increasingly vulnerable in a changing world.
It can take decades for trees to reach maturity and reproduce and they can’t move when their habitat becomes inhospitable. Since trees stay where they are planted and many have seeds that are not easily dispersed, they are often trapped in a rapidly changing environment.
Michael Le and Andrew Muñoz measure the height of a tree at the Tollway (2018) by Jeff RossThe Morton Arboretum
Tree conservation means that we are trying to make sure trees will be around for future generations. A tree surviving does not mean it has been conserved. A tree is considered successful if it survives, grows, and reproduces.
Arboreta are leaders in tree conservation.
Arboreta are botanical gardens specializing in trees. They conduct scientific research, promote conservation, and engage in outreach and education
Arboreta share seeds, living specimens, research, knowledge, and skills to make sure trees will be around for future generations.
Living collections at an arboretum can be defined as trees that are grown with a purpose. Scientists and researchers study these trees, learn how they grow, and understand what it takes to keep them safe and healthy.
Morton staff by large Quercus oglethorpensis (2017) by Matt LobdellThe Morton Arboretum
Working together, researchers have identified many threats to trees, including overharvesting by humans, pests and diseases, climate change, adverse urban conditions, and decreasing diversity. Let’s look at some examples and how arboreta are responding to them.
Some trees are no longer adapted to where they once grew. Because of climate change, habitats are shifting and causing unpredictable weather patterns. These changing conditions leave trees more vulnerable to pests and diseases and increase the intensity of forest fires.
Lane Scher flies a drone in winter (2018) by Michael HudsonThe Morton Arboretum
While there is no solution to climate change, arboreta document the observable changes in trees and their habitats. They analyze and share the results of their research in order to advocate for effective responses to climate change.
Cut logs in the winter (2016) by The Morton ArboretumThe Morton Arboretum
People sometimes overharvest trees because they provide such important products. Overharvesting taken to its extreme can wipe out entire naturally occurring populations. Arboreta build awareness about overharvesting by educating businesses, policymakers and the general public.
Emerald ash borer (March 3, 2016) by Sam DroegeThe Morton Arboretum
Pests like aphids, beetles, borers, and moths threaten trees around the globe. Their impact can be devastating as they enter new regions. At The Morton Arboretum, scientists and breeders have been breeding pest and disease-resistant trees.
With compacted soil, restricted growth areas, and pollution, urban environments are challenging for trees. Research has identified species that can thrive in urban areas and techniques to help them survive. Arboreta share this information with city planners and other leaders.
Matt Lobdell in the Oak Collection (2015-09-17) by The Morton Arboretum and Michael Hudson, independent contractorThe Morton Arboretum
Overharvesting, pests, diseases, climate change, adverse urban conditions, and decreasing diversity -- the list of threats may seem overwhelming, but arboreta are making great progress in addressing each one.
The Morton Arboretum - The Champion of Trees (2015-04-16) by The Morton ArboretumThe Morton Arboretum
Scientists, conservationists, and other advocates are working on the behalf of trees. You, too, can be a champion of trees by supporting this important work.