From the Director's Desk A Changing Climate: New Problems, New Solutions

By Fred Breglia

Thanks to tech­nol­o­gy, arborists are bet­ter equipped and more informed than in the past. But with the impact of a chang­ing cli­mate, they are fac­ing more chal­lenges than ever before. Sev­er­al fac­tors expect­ed to neg­a­tive­ly impact tree health include extremes in tem­per­a­tures, inten­si­ty of wind and ice storms, effects from fire, and site and soil issues.

As mean tem­per­a­tures increase, heat com­bined with air pol­lu­tion will lead to greater stress for trees. Plants will expe­ri­ence ele­vat­ed lev­els of car­bon diox­ide, tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions, prob­lems with ozone, and less avail­abil­i­ty of nitro­gen and water. More severe droughts and more intense storms, includ­ing cat­a­stroph­ic hur­ri­canes, are anticipated.

We are already wit­ness­ing an unprece­dent­ed species migra­tion as the native range of trees in our forests changes. To mit­i­gate these shifts and to plan for healthy forests in the future, an ever-chang­ing body of knowl­edge about tree health and eco­log­i­cal inter­ven­tion is required. New trees should be cli­mate ready,” test­ed species that can sur­vive the cli­mate of the future. Hor­ti­cul­tur­ists are work­ing to breed cul­ti­vars that are more resis­tant to dis­ease, drought, and insects, and new types of grow bags have been devel­oped that enable many more roots to sur­vive dur­ing ship­ping and transplanting.

Tech­nol­o­gy also pro­vides arborists with new tools to address the prob­lems inher­ent in cli­mate change. For exam­ple, ground pen­e­trat­ing radar can be uti­lized to diag­nose root sys­tem dis­or­ders. Using high son­ic tomog­ra­phy tools, we can now visu­al­ly explore the cav­i­ties of trees, reveal­ing defects much as would a doc­tor iden­ti­fy dis­ease in a human being.

New approach­es in hor­ti­cul­ture are not lim­it­ed to rur­al loca­tions. Cities of all sizes are going green. In many areas, smart” designs for con­struc­tion projects are becom­ing the norm. Arborists are work­ing with engi­neers to pre­serve exist­ing urban green space. Green roofs, com­plete with solar pan­els and des­ig­nat­ed gar­dens, are being devel­oped on top of build­ings. They may incor­po­rate both sus­tain­able ener­gy and small-scale farm­ing. Earth-friend­ly engi­neer­ing is appear­ing every­where, town and coun­try. Gut­ters are being replaced with rain gar­dens and col­lec­tion pools, with cleans­ing sys­tems that facil­i­tate water con­ser­va­tion and reuse.

With a chang­ing cli­mate and the hor­ti­cul­tur­al chal­lenges it presents, new tech­nol­o­gy can, and must, lead to new solutions.


Summer 2021

Volume 39 , Number 2

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Jun 10, 2022 | Anne Donnelly

Don't Overlook Your Reciprocal Admissions Privilege

A sometimes overlooked benefit of your Landis Arboretum membership is the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal... read more

May 29, 2022

Scenes From the Spring Plant Sale

Thanks to our many wonderful volunteers, plant consignors, vendors, and customers, the Landis Signature Spring... read more

May 28, 2022 | Fred Breglia, Executive Director

From the Director’s Desk: Q&A, Part III

In this last Q&A session, I am focusing on leaf color change during the... read more

May 28, 2022 | Erin McKenna Breglia, Landis Gardener

From the Garden: Milkweeds for Monarchs!

Many people enjoy seeing butterflies in our Landis gardens. especially the monarch butterfly, Danaus... read more

May 28, 2022 | Anita Sanchez

Life and Death on the Lawn

It’s a beautiful summer day. You’ve finished your stack of books from the Landis... read more

May 28, 2022 | Amy Howansky

Chasing the Impossible: Deer-Proof Shrubs

As a professional horticulturalist and employee at a garden center, I am asked many questions... read more

News Archive