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SCIENCE & conservation

Eight photos showing the diversity of research at The Morton Arboretum: white blossoms on tree branch, researcher measuring branch, researcher using long pole to sample tree canopy, researcher taking tree core, microscope examining tree rings

The Arboretum’s mission—to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world—has never been more important. The world around us is not as green as it used to be.

Since the Arboretum’s beginning in 1922, practical, scientific research has been a cornerstone activity. Here, we strive to understand how to grow healthier trees and to create healthy tree communities all over the world so the planet can thrive.

Learn more about how the scientific research and conservation efforts at The Morton Arboretum are building a truly green legacy and improving tree communities for you and future generations.  The Arboretum's programs work to support our mission by:

Developing the scientific knowledge and technical expertise to sustain trees

The Center for Tree Science conducts and communicates research to address the key challenges facing trees, builds collaborative scientific communities and shared research resources, and uses an integrated mentorship program to inspire new leaders in tree science.

Leading the effort to ensure trees are healthy, abundant, diverse, and equitably distributed in the Chicago region

The Morton Arboretum leads the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, 200 partner organizations working across the seven-county region to make our region the most verdant, livable, and resilient in North America.

Leveraging the expertise of the botanical garden community to protect threatened trees

The Global Tree Conservation Program uses a variety of strategies to conserve tree species, including threat assessment, conservation genetics, high-quality ex situ collections, and in situ conservation of threatened populations.  The program also builds capacity and catalyzes action for tree conservation by providing workshops, developing tools, and strengthening the global network of tree experts. 

Developing new scientific knowledge to understand global plant diversity through our Living Collections and Herbarium

The Morton Arboretum's Living Collections and dried Herbarium specimens are a resource for researchers and the community to understand plant diversity and what different species need to grow and reproduce, to develop new resilient plant varieties, and to restore plant communities.  Scientists at the Arboretum and around the world use these resources to tackle these scientific challenges. 

Sharing knowledge, experience, and resources to help arboreta meet goals and raise professional standards

The ArbNet Accreditation Program is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta and tree-focused professionals.  Join the professional community, get accredited, and share knowledge and resources to support the common purposes of tree-focused public gardens.

Managing and restoring the Arboretum's woodlands, wetlands, prairies, and streams

Arboretum staff and volunteers work to learn about and restore over 900 acres of natural areas on the grounds, including habitat key for native animals and one of the oldest prairie restorations in the country.

Catalyzing target audiences through innovative science communication

Our resident Treeologist is a science communicator working to catalyze targeted audiences by translating science and conservation work and collaborating across the institution to develop programs and messaging relevant to the Arboretum's mission.

Interested in learning more or getting involved?