New Exhibit to Shine Light on Endangered Trees

By Amy Joseph Landon

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is bringing the plight of trees rhs2to the public’s attention with a new traveling exhibit from The Morton Arboretum, Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat. The exhibit opens at Bernheim on March 15 and runs through July 5.

The exhibit will be set up in and around the Two Ponds Loop trail behind the Visitor Center.

Morton Arboretum developed the exhibit and Bernheim worked with Morton to bring it to Kentucky, one of 14 states and 3 countries where it has been displayed.

“Unfortunately large forest blocks dedicated to conservation like Bernheim are becoming more and more rare,” said Dr. Mark Wourms, Bernheim’s executive director. “Thousands of trees disappear from the landscape everyday including right here in Kentucky. Yet trees are vital not only to wildlife but to mankind.”

While the public often thinks of animals as endangered, it doesn’t consider trees the same way. There are less than 100 mature Wollemi Pines in the wild, compared to 2,500 mature wild giant pandas. In fact, according to the World List of Threatened Trees, more than 8,000 tree species (10 percent of the world’s total) are threatened with extinction.

Wourms said that Berheim wants to inspire people to save trees and show how they enrich our lives.

Visitors will be invited to embark upon a global journey exploring compelling tree stories from around the world. 15 trees, including the Wollemi Pine, are featured in the exhibit. Bernheim horticulturists have actively sought out each these rare trees and will include them in the exhibit. To further enhance the exhibit, Bernehim is adding trees native to Kentucky that are vulnerable.

The exhibit also calls attention to the many threats facing trees today, including unsustainable harvesting, land-use changes, invasive species, climate change, and pollution. It also acknowledges how we have to balance immediate human needs with long-term sustainability.

“The exhibit will help people understand why we all must protect trees, and how everyone can act as a champion for trees,” said Wourms. “It doesn’t have to be on the scale of Bernheim. Everyone can play a part in their own back yard, place of business or local community.”

That includes businesses like LG&E-KU that is helping to sponsor the exhibit.

In addition to the exhibit, Bernheim is offering a wide array of programming and events with a focus on trees. Be sure to check back at for more information on complementary programing, as well as an ongoing blog series that features updates on the exhibit and profiles each of the rare trees featured in the exhibit.

And mark your calendars now for the public opening event set for April 2. More details are coming soon.


Note – Funding for this exhibit comes from The Morton Arboretum and the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services, Museums for America Grant Program. The Morton Arboretum developed and produced the exhibit in association with the Global Trees Campaign, a partnership between Fauna and Flora International and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

Our Newsletter

Sign up for the Bernheim Buzz

Get the "buzz" of Bernheim activity weekly in your inbox by signing up below.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.