SCIENCE & conservation

Global trees conservation

The Morton Arboretum's Director of the Global Tree Conservation Program Murphy Westwood, PhD, discusses the three most threatened trees in the Arboretum's collection.

Leading and assisting efforts to prevent extinction and secure the world’s threatened tree species.

Trees form the backbone of terrestrial ecosystems, support global biodiversity, and provide valuable food, timber, fuel, and medicine. Trees clean pollutants from our air and water, provide the oxygen we breathe, and help cool our homes and cities. Despite their critical importance to human health and global ecosystems, at least 10 percent of the world’s roughly 100,000 tree species are threatened with extinction and over 1,000 species are critically endangered. To prevent this devastating loss of tree diversity, The Morton Arboretum is forming global collaborations and developing conservation strategies that combine the botanical expertise and well-curated tree collections of arboreta with on-the-ground habitat protection and conservation of natural populations of threatened trees.

A cornerstone of this mission is to serve a leadership role in supporting and advocating for the Global Trees Campaign, a joint conservation initiative between Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and Fauna and Flora International (FFI). The Global Trees Campaign is the only international conservation program dedicated to saving the world’s threatened tree species. The Morton Arboretum and BGCI have formalized a partnership to strengthen and grow the Global Trees Campaign and The Morton Arboretum now hosts a BGCI Global Tree Conservation Officer, Tree Conservation Specialist Dr. Murphy Westwood.

In addition to supporting the Global Trees Campaign, The Morton Arboretum aligns its conservation goals with the targets of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), the most widely adopted international policy framework for protecting the world’s plant diversity. The sixteen targets of the GSPC provide clear objectives and timelines to guide conservation actions by the botanical garden community.

The initiatives of The Morton Arboretum’s global trees conservation program are also strategically aligned with the priorities of the Center for Tree Science, which brings together experts from botanical gardens, universities, government, industry, and other organizations to participate in collaborations that generate new knowledge and provide training to address key challenges facing trees in urban areas and in the wild.


Current projects

Publications (2004-2014)

Vanishing Acts: Tree conservation traveling exhibit and teaching resources