In celebration of Arbor Day, 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 – will host events all week long throughout the city. Arbor Week events include:
Over 4,000 trees to be planted through community-wide effort
In its second year of funding, the County will invest $950,000 into its tree canopy by funding 25 projects for tree plans and tree planting sponsored by area municipalities, neighborhoods and nonprofits through the Cuyahoga County Healthy Tree Canopy Grant Program. This funding will spur the creation of 20 tree planting projects, five tree planning and planting projects and one new County tree nursery.
This innovative grant achieves an action identified in the County’s 2019 Climate Change Action Plan through the annual contribution of $1 million dollars for five years to revitalize the tree canopy in Cuyahoga County.
Working closely with communities, neighborhoods, and nonprofits, we’ve been able to make critical improvements in tree canopy coverage in areas that tend to be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
– County Executive Armond Budish
The County’s 2019 Urban Tree Canopy Assessment showed slightly more than 100,000 acres (34.7 percent) of all land in Cuyahoga County is tree canopy, with an additional 371,000 acres available for tree canopy. The first round of funding identified over 15,000 sites available for tree planting in multiple municipalities. Projects were selected based on a variety of factors, with special consideration given to projects that align with the County’s equity and vulnerability goals. “We are making great progress toward our goal of increasing our tree canopy as we continue to plant thousands of trees across Cuyahoga County,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “Working closely with communities, neighborhoods, and nonprofits, we’ve been able to make critical improvements in tree canopy coverage in areas that tend to be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. I applaud municipalities for their dedication to increasing their canopy coverage, which will ultimately improve the well-being of all residents.”
This second round of grants supports the implementation of community urban forestry plans, expanding tree canopy through community reforestation projects and implementing high impact reforestation projects. The Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program will gather data about each project, monitor its success, and produce an annual report that will better inform project selection and funding for each successive year of grant funding.
“Trees are critical for so many things—helping with local air quality and storm water runoff, providing summer shade and minimizing air conditioning costs, and generally assisting with overall mental health. That’s why the County continues to put resources into helping strengthen tree plantings in communities,” said Cuyahoga County Sustainability Director Mike Foley. “Planting trees is important, but making sure they are healthy and will survive for the next 50 to 75 years is paramount for a successful tree canopy restoration program. This grant program allows us to continue to increase our canopy across dozens of municipalities in a healthy and sustainable way.”
Over 4,000 trees will be planted during this second phase, which will bring the total number of trees planted across both rounds to over 5,400. In addition, one tree nursery will be created in the City of Parma through this grant funding. Overseen by the West Creek Conservancy, Stearns Farm in Parma will serve as a fully functional native tree nursery, garden compost processing site, vegetation research location and “native Ohio wildflower” nursery.
“The County Planning Commission is honored to be part of this program committee and commend the County Executive for making funding available,” said Planning Commission Director Mary Cierebiej. “The interest in the Tree Canopy Grant Program was even greater this year than in 2019. We encourage applicants that did not receive funding to apply next year; we are happy to provide guidance. Our tree canopies are critically important to the future of our communities; we are thrilled to see the significant number of trees that will be planted as part of the 2021 program. We encourage every community in Cuyahoga County to consider sustainable and healthy growth as your plan for your future.”
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