• Start-up
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Evaluation
The Village of Northbrook, Illinois, is working to prepare the forested parts of their community for climate change. Their projected outcomes include a resilient urban forest that adapts to the changing climate, new and thriving tree and plant species that will enhance and diversify the urban forest, new plants that restore and maintain pollinator populations, and more diverse plantings to increase property values, improve quality of life, and provide lower cooling bills in the summer

Project Area

Northbrook Public Lands refers to all areas of Northbrook managed by the Village of Northbrook, specifically street trees, residential and commercial properties that have parkways, and public lands within cemeteries and adjacent to golf courses and forest preserves. Within Northbrook, there is about 6 square miles of land bordered by forest preserves. The Chicago River runs through the center of town.

Management Goals

As part of their adaptation strategy, the Village hopes to plant and foster the growth of as many trees within the forested areas of their community as their budget allows. Some specific goals they hope to achieve as the project is implemented include:
  • Plant more trees that are adapted to warmer climates, such as Pecan, Tupelo, and Sweetgum.
  • Plant at least 200 new trees per year to continue restoring the canopy by at least 20% in the next 10 years.
  • Plant more trees for storm resilience.
  • Manage nuisance and invasive species.
  • Promote more diversity in tree and plant populations for resilience.

Climate Change Impacts

Climate change is expected to elicit a variety of impacts within Northbrook and surrounding communities, including:
Weather extremes will create challenges for managing the urban forest.
More storm conditions with probability for extreme winds, rain and more ice storms.
More exotic pests and diseases can establish in the urban forest due to stress created by extreme weather.
Manage invasive plants and increase bio-diversity in the urban forest and the natural lands that we manage.

Challenges and Opportunities

Climate change will present both challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of this project:


Erratic temperature swings, longer heat waves, drought, excessive rainfall.
Planting trees that can withstand extreme storms will be important as will pruning trees more frequently to train them for better structure.
Exotic pests can appear as decline symptoms before being detected accurately.
Invasive plant management requires extensive labor to control the spread and maintain more of the desired flora. Unique varieties of plants are not readily available.


Longer growing season will provide more opportunity to grow warm season trees and plants.
Look for more durable tree species that are less susceptible to storm damage such as Kentucky Coffeetree, Oak, Ginkgo.
Work with GoGreen Northbrook Tree Champions to foster a regular monitoring program for the urban forest.
Find ways to grow more of the plants through volunteer efforts and ad hoc planting committees dedicated to natural land preservation and management. Grow smaller plants in gravel beds.

Adaptation Actions

the following adaptation actions will allow the urban forest to become less affected by high-heat weather patterns, fluctuating rainfalls and allow the trees more opportunity to withstand the pressure of new exotic invasive plants and insects.

Plant diverse trees that are heat, flood and drought tolerant
Plant more trees from growing zones 5b and 6a which can tolerate more heat and warmer winters
Manage the urban forest for invasive plant and insect species.


Project participants identified several monitoring items that could help inform future management, including:
Establishment rate for newly planted trees
Establishment of ground layer and understory.
Regular evaluation of public trees that have succumbed to decline and disease to determine presence of new invasive pest.

Learn More

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