Arbor Day is the perfect time to stop and take notice of the tremendous value trees have on our community. While the beauty of a tree is evident, only recently has research begun to prove the lifetime benefits of a tree on our environment, our health, and our economy. In fact, recent estimates have suggested that the current 35% tree canopy in the City of Grand Rapids provides over $372,000,000 in benefits from reduced storm water runoff and increased air quality alone.
The Community Foundation is excited to support local effort to increase our urban tree canopy to 40% - requiring at least another 185,000 trees to be planted and cared for. In order to have a thriving urban forest we are going to need extensive community support and action. Since only about 5% of the available planting spots are on property owned by the City, the majority of trees will need to be planted on private property. This is where you and I come in!
We are starting with a two year grant to the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks which will afford them the opportunity to launch the Urban Forest Project – a multi-faceted effort to provide opportunities for people of all ages to get engaged in growing our urban canopy. The Urban Forest Project is developing a web resource center for all things tree-related, a crowd-sourced tree inventory, and multiple events to encourage tree planting and care. We encourage you to think about ways to involve others you are connected with – maybe your neighbors, classmates, church, or employer.
Tools and resources to help build the long term vitality of our urban forest are on the way. So, stay tuned for ways that you can help ensure an even greener Arbor Day in Grand Rapids’ future!