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:

Cleveland Tree Coalition applauds Cuyahoga County’s $5M proposed funding commitment for trees

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.

Free trees through the Cleveland Community Canopy program

Cleveland homeowners, get a free tree for your home! Check out Cleveland Community Canopy, a program to help you choose where to plant trees on your property for maximum energy savings. In fewer than 10 minutes, you can pick a tree, choose where to plant it, and have it shipped straight to your home.

Order your tree here:

Cleveland Community Canopy is made possible by the Arbor Day Foundation and The Cleveland Tree Coalition, with financial support from Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, the Cleveland Climate Action Fund, and private donors who contributed to our campaign on IOBY.

Planting on private land will be an essential part of growing Cleveland’s urban tree canopy cover from 19% to 30% by 2040. Trees around homes help reduce the energy your home requires; they also add to your property value, reduce your carbon footprint, improve air quality, and more effectively catch stormwater runoff. Trees you plant are a gift to you and your community. The Cleveland Tree Coalition is proud to provide you with 1 free tree. In fewer than ten minutes, you can reserve your free tree, which will be delivered straight to your home. Trees are 1–3 ft tall, in a 1-gallon pot; you can choose from up to 5 species.

For questions or assistance with ordering your tree, please email Sandra Albro,

Cleveland Tree Canopy Goal

On Arbor Day 2017, the Cleveland Tree Coalition announced the Cleveland Tree Canopy Goal, a proposal to grow Cleveland’s urban tree canopy cover from 19% to 30% by 2040. To kickstart tree planting and conservation efforts for this goal, we proposed an initial collective effort to reverse an estimated trend of tree loss by planting 50,000 trees by 2020.

In honor of Arbor Day 2018, we are releasing Reforesting The Forest City: The Cleveland Tree Canopy Goal. This document provides more detail about the rationale behind the Cleveland Tree Canopy Goal, explaining how it aligns with Cleveland Tree Plan’s (2015) suggested actions. It also details how, at 30% tree canopy cover, trees would provide a wealth of benefits to people who live, work, and play in Cleveland—benefits valued at $44 million per year.

The Cleveland Tree Canopy Goal envisions a greener Cleveland by setting bold, yet achievable, near-term and long-termtargets for the city’s urban forest. It unites public and private tree initiatives and provides a benchmark against which to measure our collective efforts.

We invite you to join us in growing Cleveland’s urban tree canopy to 30%!

 Reforesting The Forest City: The Cleveland Tree Canopy Goal (2018; PDF)