Woodland Restoration: Seeing the Forest through the Trees
A healthy woodland provides habitat for a high diversity of native plants and animals
Oak woodlands were once more prevalent in the Northern Illinois region, but today, healthy woodlands are rare. Have you had the opportunity to experience the magic of an oak woodland? It is unique from other forests you've walked through. The oak woodland offers long perspectives and wide vistas. Shafts of sunlight nourish a variety of green-leaved and blooming plants in the understory nearly nine months of the year. And the woodland shelters and feeds all manner of wildlife. It's a rich habitat, a haven, a home.
Here at The Morton Arboretum land managers, volunteers, and volunteer woodland stewards are restoring 60 acres of our East Woods. This kind of work is a slow process. First, we changed the tree and shrub layers to regulate light levels, so that eventually we will be able to increase the number and type of smaller plants that can thrive here.
Learn more about The Woodland Stewardship Program in this video funded by REI.
When restoration began in 2007, the site included a degraded woodland and meadows. We are moving toward our goal to restore and sustain a healthy, diverse woodland where native trees and other plants can flourish.
The demonstration project seeks to:
Advance ecological restoration practices
Enhance our knowledge of how a woodland ecosystem works
Serve as a model for other initiatives that aim to recover a woodland's health and long-term sustainability
Within this website we have summarized what we've learned and collected resources to help you further your woodland interest or carry out your woodland initiative. This site is designed for many audiences. Here's a quick overview of the resources you can find:
Learn about our comprehensive approach to restoring natural communities, improving overall health, and increasing biodiversity in the woodland.
Find links to helpful websites, Arboretum documents, and recommended reading to learn current practices that are supported by research.
Find resources to help homeowner associations, condo associations and townhome associations create sustainable landscaping practices.
Learn how to apply these principles to a home landscape.
Read about the Arboretum's multi-year research study on the woodland's response to canopy thinning.
Woodland Stewardship Training Program (WSTP)
Woodland restoration is labor intensive. Our natural areas managers can't do it alone, so volunteers are key to the restoration and ongoing management of the woodland. The WSTP trains volunteers to work independently and to lead groups in management activities, under the guidance of Arboretum staff.
Find recommended websites and other resources about woodland restoration.
Want to do more? Get involved in the Arboretum's woodland restoration efforts.
Meet the Arboretum's staff members who are overseeing the woodland project.
The Woodland Demonstration Project is another way The Morton Arboretum is carrying out our goal to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.
The Morton Arboretum would like to thank REI for their generous funding that makes this project possible.