CLEVELAND, OH (April 18, 2019) – During today’s State of the County address, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announced that he will present to County Council a $5 million investment to support increasing the region’s tree canopy cover over the next five years.
“I am pleased to be able to propose this lead funding to County Council for the critical work of rebuilding our tree canopy,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. “Trees are key to remediating climate change. With a strong canopy we will be much more resilient to climate change and we will, in the long run, save money and reap health benefits. Trees are the ultimate Green Machine.”
Cuyahoga County’s tree canopy, the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above, stands at 38 percent. However, the percentage varies by community and neighborhood, meaning that county residents do not equally experience the myriad benefits that trees provide.
Downtown Cleveland has among the lowest tree cover in the county—just 4 percent of downtown is shaded by trees—which negatively affects energy costs and air quality for residents and visitors. Though Cleveland’s tree canopy cover was once nearly 40 percent, today it stands at just 19 percent. The Cleveland Tree Coalition has proposed a goal of 30 percent tree canopy cover for the city by 2040, which would require a significant investment in planting and maintenance. Executive Budish’s proposal represents the first major investment in helping achieve a healthier urban forest for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.
“In order to support a healthy and thriving region, we must invest in trees,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “We applaud Executive Budish’s leadership in growing our region’s tree canopy cover. Trees are a critical piece of our community infrastructure because they provide important environmental, economic, and health benefits.”
“We’re thrilled to hear about Executive Budish’s strong support for planting trees,” said Jill Koski, president and CEO of Holden Forests & Gardens. “A healthy urban forest provides innumerable benefits to our community, including improved health and wellness, increased climate resilience, and a multitude of economic benefits. This investment in our county’s tree infrastructure will be a big boost to regional revitalization efforts.”
Holden Forests & Gardens and Western Reserve Land Conservancy are leadership partners in the Cleveland Tree Coalition, a collaborative group of public, private and community stakeholders that have partnered to rebuild our urban forest. Additional leadership partners include the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Cleveland Metroparks, and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. The Cleveland Tree Coalition formed in 2015 to create a healthy, vibrant, sustainable, and equitable urban forest by working collaboratively to implement the Cleveland Tree Plan. Cleveland Tree Coalition members are excited about this announcement, noting that this is a critical step in the fundraising effort to make Cleveland the “Forest City” once again.