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Webinar: Oak Red-List Project – Main Threats to Oaks and Saving Oaks from Extinction

Wed, February 10, 2021 @ 12:30 pm EST - 1:30 pm EST

Oaks are sometimes referred to as the “tree of life” for providing food and shelter for a multitude of wildlife species. Murphy Westwood, director of global tree conservation for The Morton Arboretum in Illinois, refers to oaks as the “kingpins in the forest.”

But today oaks are in trouble. Razed to make way for crops, pastureland and development, and ravaged by fire suppression, climate change, diseases and pests, this country’s oak forests are a fraction of what they once were, and those that remain are declining rapidly. In a recent analysis, Morton Arboretum scientists found that 28 of the nation’s 91 native oaks—or more than 30 percent—are of conservation concern. That percentage of at-risk species in one genus, Westwood says, “is seriously worrying.”

The threats to oaks include pests and diseases, changes to landscapes, development and agriculture. Notably, oaks’ longevity and slow growth rates make them particularly susceptible to the effects of a rapidly changing climate.

In this presentation, Dr. Westwood will discuss the economic, ecological, and cultural value of oaks, and will explain the threats each species faces and the conservation efforts underway to save them, including the establishment of the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak, a recent global initiative to coordinate conservation efforts across sectors and regions to ensure no oak species goes extinct.


Murphy Westwood, PhD is Director of the Global Tree Conservation Program at The Morton Arboretum. The mission of the program is to save trees from extinction through global collaborations. Murphy works closely with colleagues from botanical gardens, universities, and other sectors in strategic locations like Mexico, Central America, Europe, and China, as well as throughout the United States, to develop conservation projects targeting key threatened tree species, especially oaks (genus Quercus). She also creates tools, guidelines, publications, and other resources to build capacity and catalyze action for tree conservation. Murphy leads the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak, is a Global Tree Conservation Officer for Botanic Gardens Conservation International, and works to build support for the Global Trees Campaign, the only global conservation program dedicated to saving all of the world’s threatened tree species. Murphy also manages ArbNet, the interactive, global community of arboreta and tree-focused professionals. She facilitates the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and develops resources and content for the ArbNet website.


Wed, February 10, 2021
12:30 pm EST - 1:30 pm EST
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