Chicago Region Ecosystem – Intro

In planning for and implementing native plants and natural habitat on your property, in your community, it can be helpful and informative to consider the surrounding area, and all of the Chicago Region ecosystem.  CLC is all about creating corridors on private property that help to connect natural area cores.  A private property can participate in a row or stepping-stone corridor that helps with the movement of fauna between core areas.  This promotes biodiversity and ecosystem robustness throughout the Chicago Region.

A great way to start exploring native habitat cores, corridors and the Chicago Region ecosystem is looking at the Chicago Wilderness (CW) Green Infrastructure Vision (GIV).   The final report is here (PDF file).   This vision provides an assessment of the existing ecosystem and green infrastructure and provides guidance for improving and expanding natural areas and green infrastructure in the region.

What is green infrastructure?  “Green infrastructure is an interconnected system of natural areas and open spaces including woodlands, wetlands, trails and parks, which are protected and managed for the ecological values and functions they provide to people and wildlife.  Green infrastructure supports native species; sustains air and water resources; and contributes to the health and quality of life for people and communities.” (from Kane County 2040 Green Infrastructure Plan – PDF file)

Some counties and communities have created a Green Infrastructure plan specific to their area.   Chicago Wilderness has helped with this effort through their SWAT Green Infrastructure Mapping Projects.  Check the link to see if there is a plan for your county and community.

The Green Infrastructure Vision includes lots of geodata and mapping.  The Field Museum has an online interactive map here.  This mapping includes many layers, including, for example, estimated Ecosystem Services Aggregate Value (in dollars).

For those interested in diving deeper into GIV reports and GIV data, see the GIV content and data stored at CMAP.   The geodata is publicly available for download.

PSCC I-View.  Another excellent resource for exploring  your area and the entire Chicago Region ecosystem I-View.  This is a database and online interactive map of protected lands, categorized in four areas:

  1. Public Sector (does not include municipalities)
  2. Private Sector
  3. Municipalities
  4. Illinois Nature Preserves

The I-View data can be downloaded.

 

Getting Involved

Here are different ways you can help create a healthy, diverse Chicago Region Ecosystem.

Citizen Science.  You don’t need to be a scientist to report ecosystem observations that can contribute to research and a better understanding of the Chicago Region Ecosystem.

Natural land restoration & maintenance.  Stewardship / volunteer.  Public & private land.  (Include public land volunteer opportunities — encourage reciprocity between public & private sector promotion of volunteerism/participation.  Include a link up to the ‘Creating Native Habitat’ section, as a reminder that good place to start participating is in your own yard.)

 

Chicago Region Ecosystem

[this page is under construction]

This section of CLC Resources provides information on the relationship of your private property native garden/habitat with the surrounding area ecosystem and the entire Chicago Region ecosystem.  Learn about stepping-stone corridors for fauna, green infrastructure, citizen science activities, volunteer stewardship opportunities, and the value of demonstration gardens.

  • Chicago Region Ecosystem – Introduction.  Included here is information about the Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision, county and community green infrastructure plans, and additional Chicago Region ecosystem mapping and data resources.
  • Your property as part of the Chicago region ecosystem consisting of cores-hubs-corridors.  [In the future CLC will provide interactive mapping for this.]
  • Getting Involved   After creating native habitat on your property, consider also activities that help the entire Chicago Region ecosystem.  Included here are citizen science activities, and public & private land restoration & maintenance — stewardship and volunteers welcome! 
  • Demonstration native habitats.  Public properties with native habitats (Field Museum, Peggy Notebaert Museum, local park, local library, etc.) help to promote creating native plant gardens and habitats on private property.
  • Coordinating  organizations.  There are a number of organizations promoting citizen participation in maintaining and improving the Chicago Region ecosystem.  The list includes: Rights -of-Way As Habitat, Chicago Wilderness, Field Museum, Peggy Notebaert, Morton Arboretum, and Chicago Botanic Gardens.
  • National groups that provide guidance include: National Wildlife Federation, Audubon, and Xerces Society.