Scientific Staff

Zach Wirtz, MSc

Director, Chicago Region Trees Initiative

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Zach Wirtz leads the Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI), The Morton Arboretum’s flagship urban and community forestry program, working to improve the health, diversity, and equitable distribution of trees in the Chicago region and throughout Illinois.

CRTI collaborates with more than 200 partners across public, private, and nonprofit sectors to inspire tree stewards and build municipal capacity and support for trees to improve climate resilience.

With a solid background in nonprofit tree planting and urban forestry, Wirtz has honed his expertise through experience in both Texas and Illinois. He holds a bachelor of science degree in urban forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a master of science degree in forestry from The University of British Columbia. He is an ISA Certified Arborist.

At CRTI, Wirtz continues to work toward nurturing green spaces and fostering sustainable urban environments with a collaborative approach.

His research interests include urban forest governance, volunteerism, and mitigating urban heat issues with trees.


Wirtz has authored and co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles on urban forest governance, volunteerism in urban forestry, and urban afforestation. He presented his work at various local, national, and international conferences. During his tenure at the Texas Trees Foundation, Wirtz co-led a team that developed the first Urban Forest Master Plan for the City of Dallas, TX. At the Morton Arboretum, Wirtz has overseen over 85 community grants statewide, and led a process to create new tools for community tree protection ordinance development, which has been endorsed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.


Master of Science, Forestry

University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Bachelor of Science, Urban Forestry

University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Stevens Point, WI, USA


Member, International Society of Arboriculture – Certified Arborist #PN-8591A, Tree Risk Assessment Qualification

Member, Illinois Arborist Association

Member, Illinois Forest Development Council, Urban and Community Forestry Committee

Co-Chair, Calumet Stormwater Collaborative Training and Maintenance Work Group

Member, American Public Works Association