Back to top

UMass Community Tree Conference 2024 - Managing Tree Systems in a Changing Climate

Event date/time: 
Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - 8:00am to 3:45pm
Event Type: 


Two pesticide contact hours available for categories 29, 35, 36, and Applicators License.
Association credits: 6.75 ISA, 6.5 (cat 1) SAF, 5.75 (cat 1) and 1 (cat 2) CFE, 2 MCA, 2 MCLP,  and 1 MCH.


8:00    Welcoming Remarks 
   David Bloniarz, Ph.D., USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

8:10    Climate Change and Urban Greening: Science and Practice
            Keith Nislow, Ph.D., USDA Forest Service

This presentation delves into the critical relationship between climate change and urban green spaces, setting the stage for subsequent speakers who will explore greenspace maintenance, insect and disease pests, and the latest scientific research on climate change right here in New England. Discover how urban greening can be a powerful tool in mitigating climate change's impact on our cities and ecosystems.

8:25    Maintaining Urban Greenspace in a Time of Climate Change
            Brian Gibbons, B.S., Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

This presentation will showcase Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway as a prime example of sustainable maintenance practices, and how urban greening can serve as an effective tool for addressing climate change at the local level. Discover first-hand how this urban oasis thrives amidst shifting climate realities, providing valuable insights and inspiration for cities worldwide. Join us as we delve into the strategies that make the Rose Kennedy Greenway a beacon of resilience and sustainability in an ever-changing environment.

9:25   Challenges of Predicting Disease Occurrence and Intensity with a Changing Climate
           Nicholas Brazee, Ph.D., UMass Plant Diagnostic Laboratory

The impact of climate change on woody plant diseases is a serious concern. In southern New England, our climate is becoming both warmer and wetter. Yet there have also been serious flash droughts in recent years (e.g., 2016 and 2022) and this trend could continue. Warmer and wetter conditions can favor the development and spread of pathogens. The increase in the severity of white pine needle blight since 2010 has been directly connected to such changes. Conversely, climate change may also be beneficial for certain trees and shrubs, facilitating more growth and subsequent resources that could be allocated to defense. For many pathogens, a lack of understanding about their basic biology hampers our ability to make accurate predictions. Recent studies on the pathogenicity of Diplodia blight of conifers will be used as a case study.

10:05    Native and Non-native Tree & Shrub Insect Pests in a Changing Climate: What Might We Expect?
            Tawny Simisky, M.S., UMass Extension Entomologist

While we do not have the ability to predict the future, current modeling research is trying to give us some idea of what we might expect from pest populations under a changing climate. The roles of climate, topography, and host abundances on pest distributions as well as non-native pest dispersal from their discovery site were used to identify generalizations that we can make about limits to pest distributions and their potential sensitivity to future climate change. Research from the US Forest Service, Northern Research Station has found that many pests are limited by a combination of climate (winter temperature and/or winter precipitation) and aggregate host abundance. The findings suggest that pests will be sensitive to future shifts in climate and host distributions. Authors estimate that combined with the continued introduction of new invasive pests, their impacts may be exacerbated by future climate change. However, the presence of a suitable host will continue to be important, even during a changing climate. This presentation will discuss some of the study findings for southern pine beetle, beech scale, emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, spongy moth, introduced pine sawfly, eastern spruce gall adelgid, and hemlock looper.

11:05    Do You Suffer From Inspection Fatigue?
              Alex Julius, M.S., BCMA, TRAQ, Davey Tree Experts

There's a lot that needs to happen before the climbing can begin. The trucks need inspecting. The climbing gear; the rigging gear; the job site. After all that inspection, do we have inspection fatigue? Are we really performing a thorough assessment of the tree and evaluating if it can handle the work? The best way to ensure we don't miss important steps in our pre-climb inspection is to take a systematic approach, reviewing defects and conditions that could impact the work. This talk will cover key elements that should be included in your pre-climb inspection to help you build out your own systematic approach.

12:05    Lunch break

Afternoon Moderator: Kristina Bezanson, University of Massachusetts Amherst

12:35    Presentation of Scholarships 

  • Kevin Cleveland, Mass. Arborists Association
  • Ed Olsen, Mass. Tree Wardens & Foresters Association 
  • Dave Lefcourt, New England Chapter - International Society of Arboriculture
  • Daniel Cohen, Hartney Greymont
  • Paul Fletcher, Julian Reese, and Gary Nedorostek - Bartlett Tree Foundation

12:50    Tree Value in a Changing Climate
              Dan Cathcart, RCA, BCMA, TRAQ, Plant Healthcare Consultants

This presentation will explore the process of appraising the value of trees. It will describe different methodologies, techniques, and systematic approaches to the appraisal process. We will establish the appraisal problem and dive into what and how we gather the data needed to solve the problem. We will consider how we determine the tree; condition, contribution to the site, benefits (or loss of benefits), and replacement selection. With this information, we will present an opinion on tree value. Additionally, there is a growing concern of the impact of climate change on the trees in our region.

1:50    Fine roots: What they look like, what they do, and how to identify if they’re healthy
            Stephanie Adams, Ph.D., BCMA, Morton Arboretum

For decades we have learned about the importance of woody structural roots. This has included what they need to look like at planting, what their depth needs to be at planting, and how they provide support. This presentation will cover the other roots—known as fine roots, feeder roots, and root hairs. They absorb water and minerals essential to photosynthesis and tree defense. What do they look like? How are they classified? How can you tell if they’re not healthy? Learn more in this presentation.

2:50    Urban Landscape Design in a Changing Environment
            David Bloniarz, Ph.D., USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

This talk will spotlight the crucial role of landscape architecture, engineering, and emerging technologies in crafting resilient streetscapes, parks, and open spaces that can adapt to the challenges of a changing climate. Explore innovative strategies and case studies that showcase how thoughtful design can enhance both the aesthetic and functional aspects of urban environments, while simultaneously addressing the pressing issues posed by environmental shifts. Discover how we can shape urban landscapes that not only endure but also thrive amidst evolving climate conditions.

3:50     Adjourn, Wrap-up, Instructions for Pesticide and Association Credits

How to Participate: 

Pre-registration required so attendees receive the Zoom link ahead of time.

Registration Deadline: 
Monday, February 26, 2024 - 9:00pm
Contact's name: 
Ellen Weeks
Contact's email: 
Contact's phone on day of event: 
This event will be recorded: