The Morton Arboretum introduced ArbNet, a new online, interactive community of arboreta that is designed to support the common purposes and interests of tree-focused public gardens. Information about arboreta and resources to support initiatives and collaborations are now available at www.ArbNet.org.
The ArbNet website includes the Morton Register of Arboreta – a list and database of arboreta and other public gardens that have a substantial focus on woody plants – and information on the Arboretum Accreditation Program that establishes certain standards of professional practice.
“Individuals and organizations have long sought definitions, standards, and means of establishing an official arboretum,” according to Dr. Gerard T. Donnelly, President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum, which sponsors and coordinates ArbNet. “No other national or international program of accreditation exists that is specific to arboreta,” he said.
The Morton Arboretum has compiled the Morton Register of Arboreta and created a basic system of accreditation as a service to foster the establishment and professionalism of arboreta; identify arboreta capable of participating or collaborating in certain scientific, collections, or conservation activity; and advance the planting and conservation of trees.
The Morton Register identifies organizations that collect and display trees, shrubs, and other woody plants for the benefit of the public, science, and conservation. Different levels of accreditation have been established to recognize arboreta for various degrees of development, capacity, and professionalism.
Donnelly explained that an arboretum is a specialized type of botanical garden that focuses on trees and other woody plants. Arboreta collect, grow, and display trees, shrubs, and other plants for people to study and enjoy, and ideally are open to the public for education and inspiration. A principal goal of arboreta is to encourage and support the planting and conservation of trees for environmental improvement and enhanced quality of life.
ArbNet.org was formally launched on April 29 – fittingly, Arbor Day in Illinois. Arbor Day was established in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton, Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland. His son Joy Morton continued the family legacy to “plant trees” and founded The Morton Arboretum in 1922. Arbor Day, which is the “signature holiday” of The Morton Arboretum, celebrates the planting and care of trees, and is observed on varying dates in all 50 states and in many countries.
With its partners – American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International – and other initiatives such as the Global Trees Campaign and the North American Plant Collections Consortium, The Morton Arboretum has created ArbNet.org to support the work of arboreta to save and plant trees.