Reforest Our City

Arbor Day 2017 | Photo Credit Western Reserve Land Conservancy

Trees save energy, reduce stormwater runoff, enhance property values, improve water quality and make our neighborhoods more attractive.

But in many urban and suburban communities, tree canopies are dwindling. Some trees are lost to development. Others are never planted or replaced due to municipal budget constraints.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy launched Reforest Our City to reverse the trend. Starting in the city of Cleveland, we are working with our partners — including residents — to plant and maintain thousands of trees along streets, in parks and in other public spaces.

The time to reforest our cities is now. The need has never been greater.


Our work

Expertise: The Land Conservancy staff includes an urban forester based at our Thriving Communities office in Cleveland. Lizzie Sords, a certified arborist, offers expert assistance to cities, community organizations and neighborhood groups. The Land Conservancy played an integral role in the development of the City of Cleveland Tree Plan.

Tree inventories: We strategically plant trees based on existing knowledge and tree inventories, which we conduct using our Geographic Information Systems and planning expertise.

Partnerships: Western Reserve Land Conservancy is a proud partner of the Cleveland Tree Coalition. The Cleveland Tree Coalition is a collaborative group of public, private, and community stakeholders that have partnered with the City of Cleveland to rebuild our urban forest. The coalition is striving to create a healthy, vibrant, sustainable, and equitable urban forest by working collaboratively to implement the Cleveland Tree Plan.

Citizen training: We provide Tree Steward Training, in partnership with Holden Forests & Gardens, where citizens learn how to plant, care for and maintain trees. Training residents to maintain existing and newly planted trees is critical to the success of our program. Click here to learn more about Sherwick Tree Steward Trainings.

Equipment:  We continue to source all necessary tools for proper tree care and tree-planting events.


Why Trees?

Western Reserve Land Conservancy President and CEO delivered a TED talk at TEDxClevelandStateUniversity on how communities reflect the laws of biology. He discusses how trees are the essential natural asset for all healthy human communities, and how we can design an enduring and prosperous region by observing a foundational law of biology.

Learn more about the Land Conservancy’s Reforest Our City program and help rebuild Cleveland’s tree canopy.

Video courtesy of TEDxClevelandStateUniversity.


Reforesting Cleveland

Cleveland has a long and rocky history with trees. It was referred to as “The Forest City” as far back as the 1820s, when then-Cleveland Village Council President Leonard Case, Sr. established an ordinance providing for the planting of shade trees. By the end of the 19th century, the city of Cleveland had great tree cover.

But the city has been defoliated. The current tree canopy in Cleveland is 18.9 percent, the fourth-smallest in Cuyahoga County, according to a study funded by the U.S. Forest Service. The study shows Cleveland’s canopy lags behind the suburbs; the county’s canopy is 37.6 percent. Cleveland now has so few trees that the city’s boundaries are visible on Google Earth.

On Arbor Day 2017, Western Reserve Land Conservancy hosted a tree planting event at which City of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced the City of Cleveland’s new tree canopy goal, an important next step in fulfilling Cleveland Tree Plan. The Cleveland Tree Coalition will plant more than 50,000 trees in Cleveland by 2020 and grow Cleveland’s tree canopy from 19 percent to 30 percent by 2040.

Read more about the goal in this op-ed submitted by the chairs of the Cleveland Tree Coalition and supported by the Land Conservancy. Ultimately, the Land Conservancy aspires to work with coalition partners to grow Cleveland’s tree canopy to 40 percent.