Cleveland Tree Coalition: Strategic Planning RFP

The Cleveland Tree Coalition is excited to release an RFP for our first Strategic Planning Process. The Coalition is currently in a place of catalyst momentum with the hiring of its full-time inaugural Director, Samira Malone, whose role will raise awareness around the critical need for a Robust tree canopy in Cleveland and generate financial and legislative support for the work of the Coalition. In addition to being a full-time Director, there has been a great deal of interest and significant investment in urban forestry over the last several years on the local, state, and federal levels.

The goal of the CTC strategic plan is to work with an experienced and innovative consultant who can help identify and prioritize investment and actions needed to keep our organization on track over the next 3-5years as we work toward achieving the tree canopy goal outlined in the Cleveland Tree Plan. We accept proposals from October 12th 2022-November 11th at 5 pm EDT. Below is the RFP.

Cleveland Tree Coalition February 22′ Grant Awardees

Through NOPEC’s Energized Community Grant program, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC) and the Cleveland Tree Coalition (CTC) were able to plant and maintain over 700 new trees in many of Cleveland’s low-canopy neighborhoods from 2020 – 2021. Based on a 2019 study, the City of Cleveland lags behind most NEO suburbs and Cuyahoga County (37.6% canopy) with only 18.9% tree canopy coverage. In addition, the City of Cleveland has so few trees that its boundaries can be seen from satellite images.

NOPEC is committed to helping the City of Cleveland in this reforestation effort which provides shade, acts as natural air conditioning for neighborhoods, sequesters carbon, and contributes to the Cleveland Tree Coalition’s target of increasing Cleveland’s tree canopy cover to 30% by 2040. NOPEC is pleased to provide needed support to the WRLC and CTC for this critical mission of reforestation of the “Forest City” through ongoing planting and maintenance initiatives. 

This year the Cleveland Tree Coalition has awarded $311,564 in grants to CDCs and local non-profit organizations for tree planting and maintenance within the City of Cleveland. Organizations receiving funding include:

  • Cleveland Neighborhood Progress
  • Famicos
  • MidTown CDC
  • Monroe Street Cemetery Foundation
  • Old Brooklyn CDC
  • Organic Connects
  • Slavic Village Development
  • Northwest Neighborhoods CDC
  • Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Reforest Our City Program 

CTC is preparing for the next round of grant funds, and the application will be available from August 15th- September 5th. Organizations are eligible to apply for up to $50,000 for planting and maintenance. 

Reforesting the Forest City: A Slate of Events Scheduled to Celebrate Arbor Day 2022

Cleveland Tree Coalition member organizations are celebrating trees in Cleveland all week long.

In celebration of the 150th Anniversary 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 a series of virtual and in-person events to celebrate Arbor Day in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Tree Coalition members will be posting social media content throughout the week using the hashtag: #ArborDayCLE. Additional Arbor Week events include:

  • Tuesday. April 26
    • Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District and Friends of Euclid Creek will host an in-person seminar called “Green Yards & Healthy Homes” to demonstrate how to replace chemicals in your home and yard with natural-safe options.
    • Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Zoom into Nature webinar series will highlight Arbor Week with Foundations of Tree Identification. Attendees will join Lizzie Sords, certified Arborist, to learn the basics of tree ID and common plant terminology that they can use to start to identify the trees in their own neighborhoods. This webinar will set attendees up to continue to learn and practice tree ID on their own as our trees begin to leaf out and bloom.
  • Thursday, April 28
  • Friday, April 29
    • In observance of Arbor Day on Friday, April 29th, Holden Forests & Gardens will offer free admission to the Cleveland Botanical Garden and the Holden Arboretum. Free tree seedlings will be distributed at Cleveland Botanical Garden between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and at the Holden Arboretum between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or while supplies last at each campus. Trees that will be distributed are: Red maple, Acer rubrum, Sugar maple, Acer saccharum, Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Serbian spruce, Picea omorika.
  • Saturday, April 30
    • Cleveland Metroparks will host “Big Trees in the Valley” hike where attendees will discover the different species of trees that enjoy living in the river valley.
    • Fun for the whole family – Nature Center at Shaker Lakes will be hosting a Family Exploration Day, featuring a wildflower hike, creek exploration, and caterpillar/butterfly monitoring.
    • “Grow not Mow” by Doan Brook Partnership will have volunteers planting 60+ buttonbush and silky dogwood in this marshy area to absorb stormwater, prevent erosion during severe weather events and provide habitat for native wildlife.
    • Tree-t yourself to a free tree this Arbor Day at Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Arbor Day Tree Adoption. In an effort to raise the tree canopy in Cleveland, 160 trees will be given away to city of Cleveland residents.
    • Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District will host their annual “Big Creek Cleanup” to protect or local streams and Lake Erie.
    • “Flow and Grow” in MidTown will feature a Neighborhood Community Tree Planting and Celebration from 12-4 p.m. at the Dunham Tavern. The event will feature local food as well as a yoga session from instructor Dawn M. Rivers. AJ and The Confirmation Band will also perform! Volunteers are still needed!

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 six years, according to a 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 BIPOC communities disproportionately, systemically. The 2020 update calls for the Cleveland community to rise creatively and collectively to grow an equitable canopy. This includes peeling many layers of systemic injustices to address health and environmental detriments, and creating just accessible and green opportunities in the process.

25 Projects Awarded Funding Through Round Two of Cuyahoga County Healthy Tree Canopy Grant Program

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.

Preliminary map of 2021 Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program awards

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.”

For more information, click here:

Cleveland Tree Coalition Webinar: Growing Trees and Growing Equity in Cleveland

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 

Request For Qualifications: Urban Tree Nursery – April 2021

The Cleveland Tree Coalition is seeking proposals from qualified project teams for a Nonprofit Containerized Tree Nursery to supply locally sourced, mostly native tree stock to groups in the greater Cleveland area who are actively working toward the goals of the Cleveland Tree Plan.

This RFQ is based on the findings of a feasibility study, in which the Cleveland Tree Coalition worked with partners to examine the feasibility of establishing an urban tree nursery in Cleveland to supply cost-effective, climate-appropriate nursery stock to the region. Read more about the study and access the full report here: Business Plan: Urban Tree Nursery in Cleveland.

Successful applicants will consist of a project team that is led by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and includes a Nursery Manager that is experienced in sourcing and propagating local native tree seeds and growing containerized woody stock. The project team must present a plan for accessing sufficient land in Cleveland, operating a Nursery that benefits local communities, contributing to green workforce development, and partnering with the Coalition to advance the Cleveland Tree Plan. The Cleveland Tree Coalition will partner with the selected Nursery team to provide technical expertise, management assistance, partnership facilitation, advocacy, and fundraising support for the Nursery.

Proposals will be accepted in a two-part process, consisting first of a letter of inquiry that outlines the project team’s qualifications and their proposed Nursery plan. Invited finalists will then be invited to submit a full proposal that details the team’s qualifications and their proposed Nursery plan.   

Letters of inquiry are due Friday, April 30, 2021. Please check the RFQ for additional information, including important deadlines.

See Also

Report, Sept 2020: 80% of Cleveland’s urban forest managed by private residential homeowners and the 25 largest landowners

A new report describes how the twenty-five largest landowners–composed of local government, businesses, parks, and institutions–collectively manage 38% of Cleveland’s urban forest. Private residential homeowners, who manage another 43% of Cleveland’s urban forest, could be said to be a 26th largest landowner type. Together, the largest landowners and private residential homeowners could be instrumental in helping Cleveland achieve its canopy goal of 30% tree cover. Read more…

2020 Cleveland Tree Canopy Progress Report

The Cleveland Tree Plan, released in 2015, provided recommendations and actions to (1) recognize trees as critical infrastructure; (2) reverse the trend in canopy loss; and (3) assume full stewardship of the tree infrastructure in the City of Cleveland.

This 2020 Tree Canopy Progress Report:

  • Reviews progress in implementing the 2015 Cleveland Tree Plan.
  • Utilizes the 2019 Cuyahoga County Urban Tree Canopy Assessment data to evaluate the current state of Cleveland’s urban forest and highlight changes in tree canopy between 2011 and 2017.
  • Updates calculations on the benefits of Cleveland’s urban forest based on the most recent models and research.
  • Updates the socio-economic and public health framework for neighborhood canopy action.
  • Provides new recommendations to help reverse the canopy loss trend in Cleveland.

Key Findings

  • The Cleveland Tree Coalition’s (CTC) membership has grown from 5 to over 40 members since 2015.
  • The organizations that make up the CTC Executive Committee are working together to identify solutions to Cleveland’s canopy challenges.
  • Cleveland lost 5% of its tree canopy cover from 2011 to 2017 continuing the trend in canopy loss. If this trend continues the city’s tree canopy cover will fall to 14.8% by 2040, well below canopy levels of other cities in the region.
  • The 5% loss in tree canopy has led to a 6.3% reduction (over $3.1 million) in cumulative tree benefits.
  • Tree canopy in Cleveland currently provides $11.4 million in quantifiable services to the community each year – or $29.40 per person.
  • To meet the canopy cover goal of 30% by 2040 would require the planting and successful establishment of 28,400 trees per year.
  • Awareness of the connection between healthy canopy and a thriving community is at an all time high, as evidenced by investments made by the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and other partners in revitalizing tree canopy cover.

Download the Full Progress Report

Cleveland Tree Coalition. 2020. Cleveland Tree Plan: 2020 Tree Canopy Progress Report. Kent, OH: Davey Resource Group. 42 pp.

Cuyahoga County Tree Grants Lay a Great Foundation for the Future of Our Urban Forests

In his 2019 State of the County address, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish pledged $5 million over five years to plant thousands of trees across the region and increase Cuyahoga County’s tree canopy. Executive Budish’s commitment established the Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program, a competitive grant program that is jointly coordinated by the Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability, the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, and the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District.

In 2019, the program funded twenty-six (26) projects across Cuyahoga County municipalities and nonprofit organizations for a total of $950,000 in funding, including eight grants to the Cleveland Tree Coalition, its members, and partners.

Cover image: Trees at the Michael J Zone Recreation Center in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, an area that received a 2019 tree planning grant

The Cleveland Tree Plan 2020 update

One award was made to the Cleveland Tree Coalition (with support from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress) to update the Cleveland Tree Plan. In 2013, the Cuyahoga County Urban Tree Canopy Assessment showed that Cleveland’s tree canopy cover—the footprint that tree trunks, branches, and leaves make on the surface area of the city—averages just 19% of land area across the city. The assessment also showed that Cleveland’s tree cover varies widely among neighborhoods across the city, ranging from 4% downtown to 30% near city limits, meaning that neighborhoods and residents do not benefit equally from the benefits provided by urban trees.

In 2018, Cleveland Tree Coalition members helped the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission fund a follow-up countywide urban tree canopy assessment using the most recent aerial imagery. The Cuyahoga County Urban Tree Canopy Assessment Update gives a first glimpse at progress made to date in increasing urban tree canopy in Cleveland and is a great opportunity for us to reexamine the Cleveland Tree Plan.

The Cleveland Tree Plan update, with technical assistance provided by Davey Resource Group, will provide more detail about the 5% loss in tree canopy in Cleveland during 2011-2017 and will outline a plan for reversing canopy loss and making tree cover more equitable across Cleveland neighborhoods.

Cleveland Tree Nursery Feasibility Study

One of the 2019 Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant awards was made to Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, who, in partnership with Davey Resource Group and Tree Pittsburgh, is examining the feasibility of developing an urban tree nursery to address the region’s reforestation needs. The project seeks to identify whether establishing a tree nursery within Cleveland will aid in providing a cost-effective, steady supply of climate-appropriate nursery stock to support tree planting efforts identified in the Cleveland Tree Plan, while also offering an opportunity for workforce development and repurposing vacant land.

City and Neighborhood Tree Inventories and Plans

The 2019 Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program included awards for other planning grants, which lay the foundation for cost-effective tree planting and maintenance in the future. Five community development corporations in Cleveland are undertaking inventories of the trees in their neighborhood and planning for where they can make smart investments in tree canopy to address the needs of businesses and residents. Slavic Village neighborhood has already demonstrated the value of this planning work: they were able to pass inventory information on to the City of Cleveland Department of Urban Forestry, who used the information remove high-risk trees within the neighborhood.

The Cleveland Tree Coalition is also proud to be working in partnership with the City of Brook Park to determine how our work in Cleveland neighborhoods with low tree canopy cover resonates with other Cuyahoga County municipalities who also have low tree cover. Brook Park is developing a plan to beautify their city center, which includes a library, park, recreation center, and city hall, with the addition of many more trees.

Slavic Village tree inventory findings, 2019: condition and size classes of neighborhood trees. Credit: Bartlett Tree Experts

The Future

With the challenges of COVID-19, the next round of the Cuyahoga County Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant program is currently on hold. The first year of the program, however, has laid an important foundation for five Cleveland neighborhoods and multiple municipalities to make smart use of future urban forestry dollars to grow their tree canopy where it can provide the most benefit to residents and businesses.

Cleveland Tree Coalition Members & Partners Grants Summary

City of Brook Park Brook Park Urban Forestry Management and City Center Tree Plan Planning $27,000
City of Cleveland City of Cleveland – Public Tree Canopy Preservation Planning $47,356
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress The Cleveland Tree Plan 2020 Planning $36,623
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Executing a feasibility study to create a business plan an urban tree nursery Planning $30,000
Cudell Improvement, Inc. Tree Planning in Edgewater, Cudell, and Detroit Shoreway Neighborhoods of Cleveland Planning $50,000
MidTown Cleveland, Inc Tree Plan for Community and Economic Growth in MidTown Cleveland Planning $29,000
Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation Old Brooklyn Community Forestry Plan Planning $30,000
Slavic Village Development Reforest Slavic Village Planning and Implementation $27,095
Western Reserve Land Conservancy Reforest Our City Tree Planting and Rehabilitation Implementation $39,750


Updated Urban Tree Canopy Assessment Reaffirms Critically Low Tree Cover in Northeast Ohio

City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Remain Far Below National Averages, Impacting Public Health and Costing Millions

The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission released an updated Urban Tree Canopy Assessment for the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, which shows that the tree canopy cover of both the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County decreased since 2013 and remains far below levels considered adequate to receive the health and wellness benefits of trees. The assessment is an update of a previous study released in 2013. Tree canopy cover –  the layer of leaves, branches, and trunks of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above – in Cuyahoga County decreased 6% (from 37% to 35% of county land area), and in the City of Cleveland decreased 5% (from 19% to 18% of city land area). Compared to urban areas nationwide, Cuyahoga County tree canopy cover is lower than the U.S. average of 39%, and Cuyahoga County may be losing tree canopy at a faster rate than average (canopy loss in U.S. urban areas over a similar time frame was estimated by a recent study to be 1%).

This updated assessment reinforces the urgency and importance of the efforts of the Cleveland Tree Coalition to increase the region’s tree canopy. The Cleveland Tree Coalition is a collaborative group of public, private and community stakeholders that have partnered with the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to rebuild our urban forest through the development and implementation of the Cleveland Tree Plan. The Coalition has set a goal of  increasing Cleveland’s tree canopy to 30% by 2040.

“This data shows that we need to greatly increase our efforts to address this issue,” said Jill Koski, president and CEO of Holden Forests & Gardens, one of the supporting organizations of the Cleveland Tree Plan.  “The strong commitments made by Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland are critical building blocks in our efforts, but now we need the participation of thousands of others in the community to reach our goals.”

“Trees make our neighborhoods safer, healthier and more valuable,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy.  “Trees are far more important than we ever realized. The science is now clear; in the context of cities, trees are essential to human health and happiness.  This report shows that despite increased efforts of late, much more work needs to be done. We need to plant 10 times as many trees per year to reach our goals.”

The Cleveland Tree Coalition was formed after the release of the initial Cuyahoga County Urban Tree Assessment (2013) and the Cleveland Tree Plan (2015) to address the critical need to increase the region’s tree canopy. Implementation of the Cleveland Tree Plan continues. This updated assessment makes it clear that the goals and actions set forth by the original plan must be implemented to preserve our urban forest and protect the future health and resilience of Cuyahoga County communities.

Countless studies confirm the many benefits of a healthy urban forest. Trees improve air quality by removing pollution from the air and reducing respiratory illnesses such as asthma, especially among children. Trees improve water quality by reducing stormwater runoff to sewers. Trees reduce energy costs by lowering urban temperatures and providing shade in the summer. Trees increase property values. Cleveland’s tree canopy, limited as it is, provides $28 million in benefits to the city each year.

The Cleveland Tree Coalition applauds the recent financial commitments made by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Cuyahoga County plans to invest $5 million over five years to support the region’s tree canopy.  The Cuyahoga County Healthy Tree Canopy Grant Program recently announced awards totaling $950,000 to 26 projects sponsored by municipalities, neighborhoods, and nonprofits. The City of Cleveland committed to investing $10 million over ten years to plant trees in Cleveland neighborhoods.

“Everyone in the community can make a difference,” said Sandra Albro, co-chair of the Cleveland Tree Coalition.  “Residents can encourage their local leaders to make trees a priority in city planning and care for the trees on their own property. Business and other organizations need to actively manage the trees on the hundreds of acres they control. Municipalities of all sizes need to invest in the people and equipment necessary to care for trees in their community.”

The Cleveland Tree Coalition will lead a broad outreach effort in celebration of Arbor Day, April 24, 2020, to plant and give away hundreds of trees throughout Cuyahoga County.  This annual event helps promote the importance of a robust tree canopy by engaging residents with multiple educational opportunities.


You can find the full report, visuals, and data on the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission website: