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Monday, April 9 • 10:00am - 10:15am
SYMPOSIA-01: Connecting a Fragmented Landscape in the Chicago Region: Restoring a Legacy of Oak Ecosystems

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AUTHORS: Lindsay Darling*, The Morton Arboretum; Christopher Mulvaney, The Morton Arboretum; Lydia Scott, The Chicago Region Trees Initiative

ABSTRACT: Oak was the most abundant tree genus in the Chicago Region prior to Euro-American settlement, and it is a keystone genus that shapes the ecology of the area. However, the majority of oak ecosystems in the region have been lost to development, and the few that remain are often small and fragmented, and their health is frequently imperiled by mesophycation, invasive species, pests, and diseases. In response, several Chicago organizations drafted an oak ecosystem recovery plan that outlined strategies to restore these ecosystems across the urban landscape: from managing remnant natural areas to incorporating oaks into residential and commercial properties. This talk will briefly describe the development of the oak ecosystem recovery plan, and then outline how GIS is being used to create a landscape-scale model to inform the restoration, expansion, and re-connection of these important natural communities. A component of the recovery plan was to identify and map every remnant oak ecosystem in the Chicago Region. Now, this map layer is being used to develop a shared, regional vision for a network of publicly and privately owned lands consisting of large, high quality remnant oak ecosystems (cores), that are buffered and connected by a combination of smaller, lower quality natural areas, reclaimed ecosystems, and urban/residential plantings (buffers and corridors). This is being done with the input and cooperation of a wide variety of stake holders. Natural areas managers, county and regional planners, municipal foresters, and community outreach specialists worked together to identify which remnant ecosystems were the most important, and we then used a cost connectivity mapping tool to connect these core ecosystems. This mapping project is now being used by regional planning organizations to focus where and how they work, and to identify audiences that may otherwise not be in the conservation conversation.

Monday April 9, 2018 10:00am - 10:15am
Hancock Parlor

Attendees (18)