Reforest Our City

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

However, in many communities of Northeast Ohio 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 our Reforest Our City program 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, on vacant lots, and more.

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

Our work

Expertise: The Land Conservancy staff includes a community forestry team – Urban Forester, Tree Care Coordinator, seasonal tree crew, and AmeriCorps member – based at our Thriving Communities office in downtown Cleveland. Lizzie Sords, a certified arborist, offers expert assistance to cities, community organizations, and neighborhood groups by leading tree plantings ad volunteer workshops.

Tree plantings: 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 chairs the Cleveland Tree Coalition – a collaborative group of public, private and community stakeholders that have partnered with the City of Cleveland to rebuild our urban forest – as we work toward fulfilling the ambitious goals of the Cleveland Tree Plan. In this role we are raising funds and increasing public awareness around the importance of trees while also supporting the efforts of the forty member organizations working to restore Cleveland’s depleted tree canopy. The City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Tree Coalition set a target to increase Cleveland’s tree canopy cover from 19% to 30% by 2040.

Community Training: We provide Tree Steward Training, where community members 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. The Land Conservancy’s Tree Yard is housed at Rid-All Green Partnership’s campus in the Kinsman neighborhood .

Why Trees?

Western Reserve Land Conservancy President and CEO, Rich Cochran, 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.

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 for the planting of shade trees. By the end of the 19th century, the City of Cleveland had an expansive tree canopy.

But, the city has been deforested. The current tree canopy in Cleveland is 18.9 percent, the fourth-smallest in Cuyahoga County, according to an assessment conducted by Cuyahoga County in 2019. 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.