Climate change research points to a future of extreme weather events in the Midwest, from major storms to longer periods of drought and more intensely hot days.
Planting and preserving trees can play a significant role in helping to mitigate the effects of a changing climate by reducing stormwater runoff, removing pollutants from the air and shading buildings to cut energy use.
The shade trees also can reduce the additional heat that accumulates in paving and buildings, known as "urban heat island effect."
With that in mind, the public is invited to hear leading environmental experts discuss promising new research and ongoing initiatives regarding trees and their significant environmental benefits when The Morton Arboretum presents "How Trees Can Help the World: Re-treeing Communities and Making the World a Cooler Place to Live" April 17 at 4100 Route 53 in Lisle.
The program will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $25 and includes one drink ticket and light snacks. For details, visit mortonarb.org.
Among other things, panelists will explore what communities can do to prioritize tree plantings and care, thereby creating healthier, cooler and more sustainable places to live.
The featured speakers are:
• Bill Schlesinger, a biogeochemist and president emeritus at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York.
With a focus on environmental chemistry and global change, Schlesinger has written or co-authored more than 200 scientific papers, among them research on human impacts on forests and soil. His past work has taken him to diverse habitats, from the Mojave Desert of California to Antarctica. His research has been highlighted by CNN, NPR, The New York Times and National Geographic.
• Jeff Walk is the director of conservation at The Nature Conservancy in Chicago, where he leads a team of scientists in on-the-ground conservation initiatives, many of which address the challenges of climate change with nature-based solutions. These include protecting water quality in the Illinois River and other tributaries of the Mississippi River and expanding a monitoring program at Nachusa Grasslands, a tallgrass prairie conservancy in Franklin Grove to better understand the impact of bison on prairie habitats.
• Chuck Cannon serves as the director of the Center for Tree Science at The Morton Arboretum.
Cannon leads scientists and researchers at the arboretum, connecting a large network of global collaborators to shape and expand knowledge of trees and forests around the world, and has long focused on the evolution and conservation of tree diversity.
Ongoing projects include creating advanced and effective technologies for tree science, as well as the development and implementation of a tree observatory platform for the collection of data on tree behavior, growth and status.
• Colleen Murphy-Dunning directs both the Hixson Center for Urban Ecology and the Urban Resources Initiative at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in New Haven, Connecticut.
In her role, Murphy-Dunning partners with university faculty to lead field-based instruction on urban ecology for all incoming graduate students in the forestry and environmental studies program.
Prior to her work at Yale, she taught agroforestry at the Kenya Forestry College and reviewed natural resource operations in Papua New Guinea for the Rainforest Action Network.
• Lydia Scott is the director of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, a collaboration between the arboretum and roughly 165 partner organizations across the region.
In leading the organization, Scott furthers CRTI's mission to build a healthier and more diverse urban forest by 2050 as informed by findings from "Urban Trees and Forests of the Chicago Region," a regional tree census conducted by the arboretum and the U.S. Forest Service.
CRTI provides education, outreach and resources to more than 150 communities across the seven-county Chicago region to improve the health, diversity and canopy cover of the area's urban forest.