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Global tree conservation

The Director of the Global Tree Conservation Program Murphy Westwood, PhD, discusses the Arboretum's efforts to conserve threatened oak species.

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

Trees form the backbone of terrestrial ecosystems around the world, yet over 20% of tree species are threatened with extinction. The Global Tree Conservation Program (GTCP) was established in 2014 to leverage the expertise of the botanic garden community to protect and restore vulnerable and threatened trees through global collaborations. We use a variety of strategies to conserve rare tree species, including threat assessment, conservation genetics, population demographics, seed collection and distribution, plant propagation, high quality ex situ conservation collections, and in situ conservation of threatened populations. We also build capacity and catalyze action for tree conservation by providing training workshops, developing tools and guidelines, and strengthening the global network of tree experts.

A cornerstone of the program 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) and the only international conservation program dedicated to saving the world’s threatened tree species. The Morton Arboretum aligns its conservation goals with the targets of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) and the North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Plant Conservation, which 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 strategically aligned with the priorities of the Center for Tree Science. The GTCP conducts collaborative research projects and coordinates training activities with the CTS to facilitate scientifically informed in-situ and ex-situ conservation actions and to increase capacity where it is needed to address the threats endangered trees face.