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Plant Focus

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A guest post by Matt Candeias, host of the In Defense of Plants podcast and blog

Sustaining Oaks in the Chicago Region Landscape: Developing a Plan for Maintaining Oak Dominance in an Urban Landscape

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Lindsay Darling and Robert T. Fahey

Published May 2016 International Oaks No. 27: 195–206

Abstract

Oaks have historically been the dominant tree species in the Chicago region, and are keystones in the region’s ecosystems. However, following Euro-American settlement and subsequent urbanization their dominance has declined across the region. Development has destroyed many of the original oak ecosystems, and those that remain are fragmented and under threat from mesophication and invasive species introductions. Oak regeneration is uncommon in many of the region’s natural areas and oaks are underrepresented in urban forests relative to their dominance in the region’s natural ecosystems. The need for a unified strategy for oak management has been apparent to land managers in the region, but crafting such a strategy presents difficulties in a large, highly urbanized metropolitan area such as the greater Chicago region. Developing a successful strategy for maintaining and enhancing oak dominance in such an area requires the inclusion and participation of a wide range of land use types and an equally wide array of stakeholder groups. This paper outlines how a regional strategy for maintaining oak dominance in the Chicago region was developed by the Chicago Wilderness Oak Recovery Working Group.

Keywords

oak ecosystem decline, oak conservation, urban trees

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