American Forests has recently released a request for proposals to select at least three new cities or metropolitan areas to participate in its award-winning Community ReLeaf program.
Community ReLeaf launched in 2013 to provide a suite of technical and financial resources, all told averaging $100,000 in the initial phase. With primary support from the U.S. Forest Service and Bank of America Charitable Foundation, our overarching goal is to make strategic inputs that help improve both the near-term green infrastructure locally while also helping to expand capacity for managing the urban forest over the long-term.
The first phase establishes a scientific foundation to guide this process. We usually provide an urban tree canopy assessment. However, some cities already have an up-to-date assessment, so we may also support, as we did in Austin, a community survey to gather data on residents’ relationship to the urban forest. In Washington, DC, we are helping to create a dynamic three-acre green space with agriculture, a tree nursery, art installations, nature-based play area, community gardens and space for a marketplace. In partnership with public health professionals, we are studying the impact this site has on the surrounding community.
The second phase provides resources for a high-impact tree canopy restoration project. This project can range from maximizing the number of trees installed in an area to designing and installing an open space that improves both the green infrastructure and livability of a community. In Hartford, we are planting trees to help address high respiratory illness rates in a low-income area. In Detroit, we are helping to turn a vacant lot where abandoned homes were recently deconstructed into an outdoor education green space for nearby schools and a library.
The final phase supports engagement with the public to build local support for the urban forest, as well as addresses specific policy needs, such as helping implement a new ordinance to protect tree canopy or identifying funding sources that can increase local urban forest management capacities.
We have reached 11 cities or metropolitan areas from coast to coast and ranging in size from metropolitan Chicago to the one-square-mile Asbury Park, New Jersey. We seek partnering jurisdictions who see potential transformation of their urban forest by integrating us into their ongoing efforts.
This program is open to cities in the United States. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Ian Leahy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please fill out the online application and submit by Friday, August 21st.