The Morton Arboretum is launching the 2020 Chicago Regional Tree Census, a scientific project to count and assess the state of trees across the seven-county Chicago region. Combined with the data from a similar study conducted in 2010, the 2020 census will provide scientists with an important baseline of change in the region’s trees for future research.
The tree census will be conducted between June and October 2020, following recommended safety guidance from state and county departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Crews from Davey Resource Group, a subsidiary of Davey Tree Expert Company, will visit 1,600 randomly distributed sample plots that were also surveyed in 2010. Plots include public and private property. The Morton Arboretum is notifying residents and property owners, requesting their cooperation in allowing crews access to outdoor areas.
“Chicago’s regional urban forest provides many benefits and is a critical part of our community infrastructure – just like roads and storm sewers – but it needs attention,” said Nicole Cavender, PhD, vice president of Science and Conservation at The Morton Arboretum. She noted that the region’s current tree coverage ranges from 3% to 66%, which points to inequities across communities. “There is work to do to make the Chicago region more verdant, livable and resilient, and the census will provide critical insights into how we get there,” Cavender said.
The study is being conducted by The Morton Arboretum with support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service and private sources. The work of counting and measuring trees will be done by crews from Davey Resource Group, along with trained interns from the Student Conservation Association. The Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI), a collaboration of 200 organizations, will use the 2020 findings to guide future work to achieve a larger, healthier and more diverse tree canopy for the Chicago region.
The Morton Arboretum’s website provides answers to frequently asked questions about the census.