Land managers and Scientists are working together to solve a regional problem- "How do we preserve and restore our declining native oak ecosystems?"
To that end, The Morton Arboretum, Chicago Wilderness, and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative host a summit biennially to bring land managers and scientists together to realign and prioritize research needs.
The first of these meetings was held in August 2017 at The Morton Arboretum. Proceedings from this summit will be published in early 2018.
Prior to the 2017 Summit, the Chicago Region Trees Initiative sent out a survey to land managers in the region. The CRTI Oak Ecosystem Land Managers Survey yielded responses from 42 land managers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana.
The average property size managed by the survey participants was 228,315 acres, though property size ranged from 12 to 4,000,000 acres. Although the total acreage of managed sites is high, most of these properties are broken into fragmented parcels of varying sizes, located in urban, rural, suburban, and natural areas. The respondents manage public and private land, though the majority are focused on public lands. Additional information about the respondents and properties is described on the following pages.
Following are the top 15 research topics prioritized by the land managers, along with the percent of respondents who are interested in the topic.
1. Best management practices: invasive species management (43.90%)
2. Restoration of degraded sites (39.02%)
3. Best management practices: prescribed burning (36.59%)
4. Best management practices: thinning (36.59%)
5. Best management practices: conservation of high-quality sites (29.27%)
6. Benefits analysis of oaks and related species: biological benefits (carbon sequestration, air filtration, wildlife habitat, etc) (26.83%)
7. Protection of rare species (24.39%)
8. Wildlife: impacts of herbivores on oak regeneration (24.39%)
9. Soil ecology (21.95%)
10. Best management practices: herbivore management (21.95%)
11. Mapping status of oaks (composition, size structure, age structure) in the current regional forest at fine scale. (21.95%)
12. Climate change: management strategies (21.95%)
13. Wildlife: habitat restoration and conservation (21.95%)
14. Invasive species: buckthorn and honeysuckle biomass utilization programs and feasibility studies (19.51%)
15. Invasive species: impacts to natural areas (19.51%)