Trees living in communities and cities are under threat. The average lifespan of a street tree in the City of Chicago? Less than 10 years. But even trees living in verdant suburban villages die decades before they should.  Scientists will gather in September to address the plight of urban trees in hopes of helping them live longer, healthier lives.

A seminal research conference, The Urban Tree Growth International Meeting and Research Symposium, will gather preeminent international scientists to present the latest studies on urban tree growth, and collaborate on a comprehensive plan for future research. The meeting will be held September 12 and 13, 2011, at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill.

Early tree death is not just a tree problem. It’s a people problem. Mature urban trees provide crucial environmental benefits for humans, such as cooling urban heat islands, cleaning polluted air in cities, and capturing and storing carbon on our warming planet. Studies show that urban trees also have psychological, restorative and crime-reduction benefits for people. When trees die early, they fail to adequately provide these services, and people’s health and well-being can suffer, according to Greg McPherson, PhD, Urban Ecosystems and Social Dynamics Program at the USDA Forest Service in Davis, Calif.

“A high-performing urban forest is critical to human health,” said McPherson, who will deliver a keynote speech at the Urban Tree Growth meeting. “We need scientific answers to better diagnose and treat threats to trees, because ultimately, a healthy urban forest creates a setting where people and communities are healthy.”

The conference, co-hosted by the International Society of Arboriculture’s (ISA) Urban Tree Growth & Longevity Working Group and The Morton Arboretum, will help to summarize the state of the science, identify important knowledge gaps, and highlight promising new approaches, according to Bryant Scharenbroch, PhD, Soil Scientist at The Morton Arboretum.

“We hope to integrate the needs of the tree professionals with skills of the researchers, as they work towards some common goals related to urban tree growth and longevity,” said Scharenbroch.

Arborists and other green industry professionals, municipal foresters, college students, professors, and fellow researchers are invited to attend. Those who are working to improve tree performance in urban conditions will find the latest information on best practices and research in tree selection and care.

The Urban Tree Growth meeting will present a “who’s who” of urban tree researchers from around the world. Keynote speakers and panel discussions will focus on four topic areas:

1. Descriptive studies of tree growth, longevity, and mortality. Keynote speaker: Greg McPherson (United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service). Panelists: Chris Martin (Arizona State University), Robert Fahey and Marlin Bowles (The Morton Arboretum), Lara Roman (University of California—Berkeley), Bryant Scharenbroch (The Morton Arboretum), and Julia Bartens (Virginia Tech)

2. Roles of tree production and sales on tree growth and longevity. Keynote speaker: Ed Gilman (University of Florida—Gainesville). Panelists: Ed Mulrean (Arid Zone Trees), Matthew Stephens (New York City Parks), and Henrik Sjöman (Swedish University, Department of Agricultural Sciences)

3. Roles of site design and tree selection on tree growth and longevity. Keynote speaker: Susan Day (Virginia Tech). Panelists: Tom Smiley (Bartlett Tree Experts), Alan Siewart (Ohio Department of Natural Resources), and Jason Grabosky (Rutgers University)

4. Roles of tree and site management on tree growth and longevity. Keynote speaker: James Clark (HortScience). Panelists: Alessandro Pestalozza (Monza Dendrotec), Alessio Fini (University of Florence), Gary Watson (The Morton Arboretum), and Nina Bassuk (Cornell University)

The Urban Tree Growth meeting will also include a roundtable discussion to prioritize future research; a poster session, networking opportunities; and continuing education units offered through ISA (6 ISA CEUs for Day 1 and 3 ISA CEUs for Day 2).

Find more information about The Urban Tree Growth International Meeting and Research Symposium at

To learn more about the value of urban trees, visit