In spring 2024, the organization plans to honors the significant planting of its 10,000th tree with a celebration. The event promises to include community members, partners, and city officials, underscoring a collaborative effort in environmental stewardship.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Huan Song, Director of Communications
Yamys Urbano Valencia, Bilingual PR and Communications Specialist
(Chicago, IL – DECEMBER 28, 2023) Openlands, a distinguished conservation organization committed to environmental stewardship, proudly announces the successful planting of 1050 trees in 2023. This achievement propels the total count of trees planted since 2013 to an impressive 9547, marking a significant milestone in our mission towards a greener future. With eyes set on the horizon, Openlands anticipates reaching the 10,000-tree mark by the spring of 2024.
Openlands’ impactful tree planting initiatives have made a substantial difference in 43 communities, embodying a community-driven approach. Notably, our efforts led to the planting of 772 trees across the City of Chicago, and 278 in different suburbs around our region, representing a tangible commitment to canopy equity and community investment. The selection of these communities was rooted in resident requests through Openlands’ and TreePlanters Grant amplifying the organization’s dedication to addressing community needs.
Additionally, a focus of Openlands initiatives has been the strategic planting along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on Chicago’s Southeast Side, aimed at effectively managing future stormwater runoff, safeguarding both the environment and local communities.
The diversity of tree species remains a cornerstone of Openlands commitment to nurturing a vibrant urban forest. In 2023, the top 5 tree species planted include the Bur oak, followed by the Swamp white oak, Chinquapin oak, Kentucky coffeetree, and the Shumard oak. These selections underscore Openlands dedication to fostering a diverse and resilient urban ecosystem, particularly emphasizing the crucial role of oaks as keystone species in the local environment.
Speaking on this achievement, “While we plant many of the classic trees that are proven to succeed in the urban environment, we have also begun to plant many different species of trees to see what will be successful in the future. We call these our “climate resiliency” species and they are typically native to points further south,” said Tom Ebeling, community arborist at Openlands. “The idea here is that they are currently hardy to this region, but are also well adapted to the sort of climate that is expected in Chicago over the coming decades. Something like the Bur oak is a perfect example, because it is native to our region and grows extremely well in Chicagoland already, but is also native as far south as Corpus Christi, Texas, so we know for certain that it will cope with the coming climate just fine.”
Openlands continues to be at the forefront of conservation efforts, combining community engagement with environmental stewardship. Our dedication to tree planting and environmental advocacy sets a powerful example for organizations and communities striving to create a more sustainable world.
“We are thrilled to conclude another successful planting season, but must mention the true driver of our program which is partnership and collaboration. All our projects start with a community vision and are driven by citizens who want to plant the future canopy with their own hands. The work that we do could not happen without that drive, nor without the constant support of the Bureau of Forestry, Chicago Park District, CDOT, community organizations, Arbor Day Foundation or the numerous other partnerships that make our work possible,” said Ebeling.
As we eagerly approach the spring of 2024, Openlands is gearing up for an unforgettable celebration to mark the planting of our 10,000th tree. This momentous occasion embodies not just a numerical milestone, but a testament to our unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and community engagement. We invite everyone to join us in commemorating this achievement, celebrating the collective efforts that have nurtured a greener, more vibrant landscape for our communities. Stay tuned for updates on the festivities as we come together to embrace a future filled with thriving green spaces and a healthy urban canopy.
Founded in 1963, Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. As Chicago’s regional land trust, Openlands connects and energizes the region through strategic collaboration and local partnerships. From establishing city parks and trails to stewarding large-scale landscapes and waters in northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region, Openlands is committed to advancing nature-based solutions to mitigate the threats of biodiversity loss and climate change and create access to nature for all. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.