Cleveland Foundation Awards Cleveland Tree Coalition Funding to Support Rebuilding the City’s Urban Tree Canopy

February 15, 2022

The Cleveland Foundation has awarded a $150,000 grant to the Cleveland Tree Coalition to fund the hiring of a full-time Director responsible for raising awareness, support, and funding dedicated to rebuilding Cleveland’s urban tree canopy.

To restore Cleveland’s tree canopy, community leaders are working to raise $100 million during the next 10 years to plant trees in parks, school yards, residential yards, along sidewalks, and near cooperating businesses. The result will be a greener, cleaner, cooler city in which residents can live, work, and play.

“Restoring Cleveland’s tree canopy is a health, environmental justice, and climate change resilience priority,” said Stephen Love, Cleveland Foundation program director for environmental initiatives. “The City of Cleveland has lost more than half of its tree canopy cover over the last 75 years and low tree canopy coverage coincides directly with the Cleveland neighborhoods facing the worst health and environmental disparities in the region. Dedicated staffing to lead the Coalition is a critical next step towards realizing the goals of the Cleveland Tree Plan.”

A healthy urban tree canopy is at least 30% coverage. Tree canopy coverage in the City of Cleveland is only 18%, far below canopy coverage found in similarly-sized cities like Pittsburgh (41%), Washington, D.C. (38%) and Columbus (23%). Many scientific studies have confirmed the benefits of a healthy urban forest:

  • Trees improve air quality by removing carbon from the air, 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 and improve business districts.
  • Cleveland’s tree canopy, limited as it is, provides $28 million in benefits to the city. The lack of trees can have significant and lasting effects.

“Cleveland’s urban tree canopy provides so many benefits to the City and its residents,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy and chair of the Cleveland Tree Coalition. “We were once known as the Forest City, notable for our robust and healthy urban forest. Now, many of those trees are gone, and the only way to rebuild our tree canopy is to plant more trees. We are grateful for the support of the Cleveland Foundation for this position, it will be a tremendous asset as we work to meet our tree-planting goals.”

In 2018, the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Tree Coalition adopted a goal of restoring tree canopy cover to 30% by 2040. While the Cleveland Tree Coalition member organizations are now planting close to 5,000 trees per year, a 2020 Progress Report to the Cleveland Tree Plan indicated a continued loss of tree canopy. The report estimated that to meet the CTC’s canopy cover goal would require the planting and successful establishment of 28,400 trees per year.

To meet this goal, the Cleveland Tree Coalition is entering a new phase in growing urban tree canopy in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County: developing a comprehensive plan for strategic investment of the millions of dollars required to enact a regional, large-scale tree initiative that builds equity and environmental resilience for all residents.

With funding from the Cleveland Foundation, the Cleveland Tree Coalition is now hiring a full-time Director to staff the work of the coalition. The Director will be an outward facing leader of the Cleveland Tree Coalition, leading the work to raise awareness around the critical need for a robust tree canopy, and securing funds from public and private sources to advance the goals of the Cleveland Tree Plan. Interested applicants can click here to apply to become the Director of the Cleveland Tree Coalition.