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Published on: Sunday, June 16, 2024 read more ...

Arlington National Cemetery Reaches Level III Arboretum Status


Contributions to the arboretum community, tree science and urban forestry lead to prestigious accreditation

ARLINGTON, VA - Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) is proud to announce it was awarded Level III Arboretum accreditation this week. ANC was previously designated as a Level II Arboretum in March 2015. There are only 24 renowned institutions worldwide who maintain this prestigious accreditation and only two cemeteries – Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio.

"I’m very proud of our dedicated horticulture professionals, and our entire team of cemetery employees who played a part in this success,” said Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent Katharine Kelley. “We are honored to reach this level of achievement as a Level III Arboretum, which contributes immeasurably to our mission to care for all those who rest here.”

ArbNet created its Arboretum Accreditation Program to establish and share a widely recognized set of industry standards for the purpose of unifying the arboretum community. Accreditation is based on self-assessment and documentation of an arboretum’s level of achievement of accreditation standards, including planning, governance, number of species, staff or volunteer support, education and public programming, and tree science research and conservation.

To be considered for Level III accreditation, an institution must first satisfy all criteria for Level I and Level II accreditation. It must also have a minimum of 500 species, varieties or cultivars of trees or woody plants; a dedicated curator, or curator-equivalent employee, focused on the care and development of the arboretum collection; professional capability to collaborate with other arboreta-relevant organizations; and share plant collections data with networked collections databases.

Additionally, there must be an active agenda related to tree science, strategic planting, or conservation, which should include direct research or the facilitation of scientific activities beyond public educational activities, in which data are acquired to solve problems in tree science or tree conservation. Finally, the institution must have a substantial program of education related to trees, conservation, and other related topics.

“It’s a substantial leap from a Level II to a Level III Arboretum,” said Arlington National Cemetery Chief of Horticulture Stephen Van Hoven. “Through our science, research and conversation efforts – Arlington National Cemetery has solidified itself as a leader in cemetery horticulture, landscape design and collections management.”

Current projects the ANC horticulture and arboretum staff are working on which led to this accreditation include:

  • Assisting the United States Department of Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to establish and monitor Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) traps within the cemetery to aid in detecting, quantifying and tracking the population of EAB in Arlington County and Northern Virginia.
  • Conducting trials of 20 different species of boxwoods planted at different locations within the cemetery.
  • Partnering with the Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation to conduct growth trials of chestnut blight-resistant trees.
  • Partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish a study that compares the design and configuration of in-ground pre-placed crypts.
  • Installing several rain gardens capturing rain water during storm events.
  • Mapping invasive species growing in the forested natural areas at the north end of the cemetery (began in spring 2018).
  • Collaborating with the Potomac Conservancy Growing Native program to allow volunteers to access the cemetery to collect acorns, hickory nuts and other seeds.

“A national shrine, Arlington National Cemetery is also truly world class as an Arboretum,” said Executive Director of Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Karen Durham-Aguilera. “These incredibly beautiful grounds reflect how we are privileged to honor our veterans' and patriots’ service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation.”

To learn more about these projects and our cemetery horticulture program and Memorial Arboretum, please visit the cemetery’s website at https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Memorial-Arboretum-and-Horticulture.

To view photos highlighting the cemetery’s beautiful grounds: https://www.flickr.com/photos/arlingtoncemetery/albums/72157692232445350.