The Illinois Native Plant Society will host its 2018 Indigenous Plant Symposium from April 13 to April 15 at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois. Its focus is Shawnee Natural Areas: Hotspots of Biodiversity.
“Southern Illinois is one of the most biologically diverse places in Illinois,” says Chris Evans, University of Illinois Extension Forester and Vice President of the Illinois Native Plant Society’s Southern Chapter. “Natural areas are places where most of our state’s genetic diversity is found. They contain more – and rarer – species than other places in nature.”
Nearly 10 percent of Illinois’ natural areas are found on Shawnee National Forest, making the national forest the second largest landowner in the state of such biological hotspots. About 400 plants and animals that are listed on the state’s threatened or endangered species list occur within the forest, as well as federally-listed species. Its 80 natural areas include 25 different natural communities, ranging from woodlands and glades to barrens and caves.
“Our natural areas are gems within the forests of Southern Illinois,” says Brendan Cain, the forest supervisor for Shawnee National Forest. “It is great to know that so many people value and love these places. We hope others will discover natural areas through this symposium.”
The day kicks off with a keynote by Gerould Wilhelm, a botanist and ecologist, who will talk about why it’s important for us to save and manage natural areas. The symposium also will host guest speakers that are experts on the region’s natural areas. Sessions will be split into two tracks: Understanding Natural Areas, for those who are just learning about such places, and Getting More Technical, for people who want to delve into the science of managing natural areas.
Guests also will have the opportunity to attend guided hikes on Friday and Sunday, browse goods for sale and shop for native plants and shrubs at the Annual Native Plant Sale, organized by Green Earth and Illinois Native Plant Society.
In addition to the annual native plant sale, other area organizations will be on hand to extend your knowledge of native plants, research and natural habitats.
“We hope you’ll join us to discover natural areas in southern Illinois and their rare species,” said event organizer Sonja Lallemand, retired horticulturalist from University of Illinois Extension.
The symposium is made possible by the southern chapter of the Illinois Native Plant Society in collaboration with John A. Logan College, Southern Illinois University Department of Plant Biology, Green Earth, University of Illinois Extension and Shawnee National Forest.
Details and registration at https://ill-inps.org/2018-illinois-indigenous-plants-symposium/
About Illinois Native Plant Society
The Illinois Native Plant Society promotes the study and appreciation of Illinois’ natural vegetation and provides educational resources for those that wish to learn or share in our enthusiasm. The purposes of the society are: 1) to promote the study, appreciation and conservation of the native flora and natural communities of Illinois; 2) to provide education as to the value of the native flora and its habitat; and 3) to produce publications that provide an outlet for information, such as the peer-reviewed journal Erigenia and the quarterly newsletter, The Harbinger.
About Southern Illinois University Department of Plant Biology
The Department of Plant Biology offers undergraduate and graduate degrees for students interested in the scientific study of plants. The faculty maintains expertise in plant anatomy, biodiversity, conservation, ecology, evolution, morphology, phylogeny, physiology, phytochemistry and systematics.
About Green Earth
Green Earth’s mission is to preserve natural areas for the benefit of the people of Carbondale, Illinois. It owns and maintains six natural areas, totaling 220 acres, and nine miles of hiking trails — all open to the public for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. Green Earth was created in 1974 with the purpose of acquiring, preserving and providing public access to natural areas in Carbondale.
About University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offering educational programs to residents of all of Illinois’ 102 counties — and far beyond. Extension provides practical education to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in Extension programs each year, including nearly 200,000 who participate in 4-H youth programs.
About Shawnee National Forest
Administered by the USDA Forest Service, about 1 million people visit Shawnee National Forest each year to connect with nature on its 289,000 acres. Learn more at https://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee.