By Sarah Fiorello

In response to climate change, forest pests, and invasive species that are negatively impacting the biodiversity of the landscapes we steward and cultivate, we established the Future Forests Initiative. We are raising funds to plant a variety of native trees and shrubs across our natural areas, cultivated gardens, and arboretum to increase their health and resilience.

Not only will the new plantings replace those lost from invasive insect pests, such as hemlock woolly adelgid and emerald ash borer, they will enhance carbon sequestration from the atmosphere. Currently, the plants across our 3,735 acres capture and store 4,207 metric tons of carbon annually, equivalent to 15 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by Cornell faculty and staff commuting to work each year. Cornell has set a bold goal of becoming a carbon neutral campus by 2035, and the carbon capture within Cornell Botanic Gardens’ areas has been identified as one of the primary “offsets” to meet this neutrality goal.

In addition to capturing carbon from the atmosphere, our aim is to maintain thriving forest ecosystems, which provide invaluable benefits such as flood regulation, water quality protection, soil formation, pollinator habitat, food, materials, and medicine, as well as offer spaces for recreation, spiritual connection, and overall well-being.

Selected Trees and Shrubs

We selected resilient native woody plants that will contribute to forest health and diversity in a future climate, and have a variety of cultural uses and meanings. 

White Pine needles
To the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), the white pine or “Tree of Peace” embodies the importance of seeking peace through cultivating an unselfish and healthy mind.

Forty different native tree and shrub species include sugar maple, red oak, and black cherry. View the full list.

We aim to create lasting connections with students by enlisting their help with planting.

Support the Future Forests Initiative

We encourage you to make a donation of any amount to help us realize our goal of revitalizing our campus forests. With your support, we can rejuvenate the beautiful forests that cradle the Cornell campus, help Cornell become carbon neutral, and preserve our collective natural heritage for future generations.

Make a donation here.