|More than 100 community members and activists joined panelists with the Cleveland Tree Coalition to celebrate Arbor Week 2021 and discuss the topic of “Growing Trees and Growing Equity in Cleveland.”
The 2015 Cleveland Tree Plan set a target to increase Cleveland’s tree canopy cover from 19% to 30% by 2040. Although the region has made progress in the past five years, according to the Cleveland Tree Plan: 2020 Tree Canopy Progress Report compiled by the Cleveland Tree Coalition, tree canopy cover continues to decline. Neighborhood canopy cover varies widely, ranging from 35% to 4% across the city! From heat island effects to stormwater benefits, the effect of urban forest decline affects Black and Brown communities disproportionately, systemically. The 2020 update calls for the Cleveland community to rise creatively and collectively to regrow an equitable canopy. This includes peeling back many layers of systemic injustices to address health and environmental detriments, and creating just accessible and green opportunities in the process.
Interconnected problems have interconnected solutions. In this panel, hear from community leaders on the ground about the real and existing barriers to growing an equitable tree canopy and how some communities/neighborhoods are working extra hard to address the challenges to meet the goal through local grants and community grown solutions.
Moderator: Divya Sridhar, Manager of Climate Resiliency and Sustainability, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress
Panel Members: Erica Burnett, Director of Community Building and Engagement, Famicos Foundation
Samira Malone, Neighborhood Planning Project Coordinator, MidTown Cleveland Councilman Blaine Griffin, Cleveland City Council, Ward 6
Veronica Walton, Executive Director, Food Depot to Health