Luke Messinger, Executive Director

Shana Byrd, Director of Land Conservation

This past month, collaborators from around the globe gathered in Chicago, Illinois to help ensure conservation of the world’s trees through creative partnerships.   With a special emphasis on preserving genetic diversity, the conference hosted by the Morton Arboretum in collaboration with the United States Forest Service and the American Public Gardens Association was entitled, “Gene Conservation of Tree Species – Banking on the Future”  .  

IMG_20160518_163420360The main goal of the event was to facilitate information exchange on cutting edge research and conservation action on preserving the variety of tree species, particularly species that are at risk from insects, diseases, drought and human development.  Discussion included a variety of tools to help predict the rate of species loss, innovations in genetic conservation strategies as well as meaningful projects being implemented for to conserve tree genetics and natural ecosystems. 

Bringing this information together, attendees were able to form an action plan during the meeting that will help guide next steps, strengthen partnerships and encourage collaboration. Representatives from state and federal agencies, conservation groups, natural resource managers, botanic gardens, forestry experts and scientists all contributed to development of the working agreement.

As a result, conservation is being further advanced directly into natural habitats, known as “in-situ” conservation, as well as in in “ex-situ” settings, which are those outside the tree’s natural ranges.  Both of these strategies are likely needed to ensure these plants survive for future generations.  

The Dawes Arboretum was among this group of forward-thinking organizations taking part in the initiative.  Along with our other collaborators, The Arboretum is committed to providing the needed resources, leadership and practical knowledge that will be required to help ensure our ecosystems and species are conserved for the future.

Photo: Restored forest on natural lands of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago.