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Woodland Health

Our woodlands are under attack, and under great stress. That conclusion was reached recently using nationally-recognized standards employed by well-known experts in a Woodland Health Study conducted for the RPC by an independent consultant. The benefits of woodland protection are readily apparent as spring plants – increasingly rare white trillium in the case of the photo below – begin to appear. The property on the right is protected. The property on the left is not.

The RPC believes that woodlands are an integral part of this village’s identity, a source of many benefits for its residents, and an essential element in the area-wide habitat for birds and other animals that includes the local forest preserves and rivers. (Our book In Our Own Backyard includes a discussion of the benefits of woodlands to all of us. 

One of the main threats to our woodlands is deer overbrowse. The village has chosen not to act to manage deer. Residents have been left with only one alternative to protect their woodlands – erect woodland protection fences. The RPC has concluded that until the deer population and woodlands have been put back into balance, the village should not prohibit residents from protecting their woodlands.

Another serious threat is posed by invasive insects and plants. Shade, so prevalent in Riverwoods, is also a threat to woodlands because it inhibits growth of trees such as oaks and hickories that need several hours of direct sunlight each day. The result is an evolving change in the woodlands, from a diverse inter-dependent system of native plants, animals and insects, to a much less diverse system dominated by a few rapidly-growling, shade tolerant plants that are either unpalatable to local animals and insects or that are able to reproduce more quickly than they can be consumed. Prime examples are buckthorn and garlic mustard.

The results of the RPC’s woodland health study, details of the RPC’s recommendations, the Village cost-sharing program for planting native vegetation and the Village’s ordinances regarding trees and Woodlands are included in the documents listed below, which are included on this web site. Very helpful information is also included on our Village Voice web page, among other pages on this site.