The Native Plant Center Hosts Spring Landscape Conference on Climate Change

Warmer temperatures and frequent severe weather events are transforming landscapes and habitats in unprecedented ways. The Native Plant Center’s 2013 Spring Landscape Conference, Adapting to a Changing Climate, will examine why and how the landscape is changing, how plants and animals are impacted, and what can be done to help mitigate consequences and conserve native ecosystems. The event will be held at Westchester Community College in Valhalla on Monday, March 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a snow date of March 22.

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and with national attention now focused on climate change, it’s time for those of us who plant and manage landscapes to learn about what is happening and how to adapt our plantings and practices to help limit the impact,” says Carol Capobianco, Director of The Native Plant Center.

The conference, which will consist of four presentations and a panel discussion by industry experts, will begin with an overview of how the climate in the Northeast has been changing such as with shifts in plant hardiness zones and earlier arrival of spring. A case study on how rising temperatures affect the sugar maple examines whether this species, and the associated maple sugaring industry, can survive.

How other plants and animals have been impacted will be revealed in a comparison of the mid-19th century nature observations of Henry David Thoreau regarding spring flowering times, bird migration, and ice-out at Walden Pond, with what is occurring today.

As the conference aims to assist landscape professionals and home gardeners in dealing with climate change impacts, the final presentation will explore techniques for incorporating native plants into landscape designs that address today’s realities. The panel discussion will offer ideas, tools, and resources to help landscapers, designers, and gardeners meet the challenges of the new era.

For the first time, The Native Plant Center is offering Continuing Education Units (CEUs) accredited by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) as well as Professional Development Hours (PDHs) accredited by LA-CES, Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System, which have been offered in the past. Registration is required; the fee depends on whether professional credits are requested. For further details and to register, visit or call 914-606-7870.

Lecture and case study details: Adapting to a Changing Climate 

A Primer: Climate Change in the Northeast
Allison Morrill Chatrchyan, Ph.D. and Dianne Olsen

The climate of the North­east has been changing in noticeable ways: rising an­nual average temperatures, increases in heavy precipita­tion events, variation in snowfall amounts, shifts in plant hardiness zones, earlier arrival of spring, and longer growing seasons. Learn about these observed changes, predictions for future changes, and the impact they will have on landscapes in the region.

Allison Morrill Chatrchyan, Ph.D., is Environment and Energy Program Leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in Dutchess County and a member of the CCE Statewide Energy and Climate Change Team. She co-chairs the Cornell Climate Change Program Work Team.

Dianne Olsen is Senior Resource Educator for the Envi­ronmental Horticulture and Natural Resources program at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Putnam Count, directing  education outreach in gardening, water quality, biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture.

Case Study: The Future of Sugar Maples, Brian Chabot, Ph.D.

Recent research is exploring whether sugar maples can withstand a warmer cli­mate or if they will disappear—and with them the maple sugaring industry—from the Northeast landscape. Using climate models, examine what might happen to spring sugaring in New York, and with data from the Forest Inventory Analysis, view how other dominant forest species have been changing.

Brian Chabot, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell Univer­sity, where he has taught for 40 years. For eight years he directed the Cornell Maple Program and now conducts research and education programs on many aspects of maple production.

Walden’s Plants and Animals: From Thoreau to Today

Richard Primack, Ph.D.
Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) was a keen observer of nature and kept extensive phenological notes. Scientists have been using those records and other data sources to document dramatic changes in the timing of spring flowering, ice-out at Walden Pond, arrival of migratory birds, and butterfly flight. Discover what their findings in Concord, Massachusetts reveal about the effect of warming trends in the Northeast.

Richard Primack, Ph.D., is a biology professor at Boston University, editor-in-chief of the journal Biological Conservation, and author of two conservation biology textbooks. He and his colleagues investigate the effects of a warming climate on the plants and animals in Massachusetts, following up the observations of Henry David Thoreau.

Designing with Native Plants in a New Era

Laura Hansplant
Climate change adds urgency to sustainable landscape design and native habitat conservation. Explore planting design challenges that spring from shifting weather patterns and more frequent rain events. Learn techniques for incorporating resilient native plant communities into designs that address today’s realities. Discover emerging frontiers in ecology-based landscape design, including the potential for rooftop habitats that collectively mediate local urban climate changes.

Laura Hansplant, ASLA, LEED AP, is a landscape architect who embraces sustainable design in light of the changing environment. After 15 years with Andropogon Associates, she is now Director of Design at Roofmead­ow, where she is exploring the ecology of green roofs and their potential for reconnecting urban environments.

Panel Discussion: What Can We Do? Tools and Resources for Landscapers, Designers, and Gardeners with Allison Chatrchyan, Dianne Olson, Laura Hansplant and Richard Primack.

The Native Plant Center was established in 1998 as the first national affiliate of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. The Native Plant Center maintains demonstration gardens and educates the public about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants through conferences, lectures, field trips, classes, and its Go Native U certificate program.