The Morton Arboretum and The Field Museum have partnered to launch the Chicago Regional Trees Initiative (CRTI) to study and understand Chicagoland's tree populations and identify opportunities for its collaborative management. The long term goal is to create healthier woodland environments distributed across seven counties including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.
Chicagoland's urban forests are threatened by invasive species such as buckthorn and honeysuckle. Trees that once dominated the landscape such as oak and hickory have become less abundant. These conditions make urban woodlands more vulnerable in facing challenges from climate change and destructive forces of parasites like the emerald ash borer beetle. As a result, many local communities face the possibility of nearly treeless streets and degraded forests.
The Field Museum's Science Action team is using a combination of satellite imagery, on-the-ground surveys and 3D elevation data to create interactive online maps to create a more accurate picture of the region's urban tree canopy and help identify potential problems. The CRTI will use this information to increase and diversify tree populations, combat invasive species and strengthen and update reporting and mapping tools.