Community Forestry

The Holden Arboretum envisions a Northeast Ohio where trees, forests and gardens provide maximum ecological and social benefits to the region’s people and communities. To help achieve this vision, the Arboretum employs a full-time community forester, who serves as a resource for the community.

Reforesting The Forest City – The Cleveland Tree Plan

In Fall 2015, Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, LAND studio, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and The Holden Arboretum joined forces to create a new Cleveland Tree Plan. The plan recognizes the significance of trees in our communities. Clem Hamilton, president and CEO of the Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden, recently addressed the issue in a editorial column published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

” … the sobering fact is that Cleveland’s tree canopy cover – the percentage of land that appears covered with tree canopy, evaluated via aerial photographs – is an abysmal 19 percent and declining. Those who advocate that Cleveland reclaim its former mantle as “The Forest City” are seeing our city head in the opposite direction, falling well below comparable-sized cities such as (dare I say it) Pittsburgh.

As first noted in the 2013 Cuyahoga County Urban Tree Canopy Assessment, less than half the land that could be planted with trees is forested, and even there, the canopy cover is often sparse. Most of our canopy is found in prosperous, well-treed neighborhoods that contrast with other neighborhoods with stark, jarring landscapes. Our desire for environmental justice, and how far we have to realize it, plays out conspicuously in our patterns of tree cover.” (Read the full column.)

Holden Forests & Gardens and Western Reserve Land Conservancy have partnered to provide Sherwick Tree Steward Trainings where citizens learn how to plant, care for and maintain trees. Training residents to maintain existing and newly planted trees is critical to the success of the Cleveland Tree Plan and our collective reforestation work. Together we can reforest the Forest City!

Learn more about Tree Steward Training.

Community Outreach and Engagement

Chad Clink, the Arboretum’s community forester, hosts a tree planting workshop for area residents.

Holden is a resource for municipalities, institutions and organizations interested in creating greener communities. We can help create plans to improve tree health care and management practices, which in turn will enhance the beauty and livability of Northeast Ohio.

  • Urban Forest Workshops – seasonal workshops assist communities with urban and community forest planning and management, including tree inventory and planting plans, tree ordinances and urban forest assessments.
  • Youth Education – tree-focused education is a vital component of youth and workforce development. Outreach is available to communities in need of tree-focused curriculum and programming.
  • Holden Arborcare Volunteer Program – community forestry is focused on engaging people and trees to create sustainable communities. Holden’s tree trained volunteers can assist with a variety of projects.

Home Owner Outreach and Engagement

The Arboretum serves as a resource for homeowners, providing them with the resources to make sound choices when it comes to tree selection and care.

  • Species selections lists – appropriate species selection is essential to ensure trees are well sited and thriving to maximize benefits. Lists and resources are available to guide that process
  • Working Woods – the majority of woodland in Ohio is privately held. The Arboretum’s Working Woods provides homeowners with an opportunity to interact and learn about best management practices.
  • Plant health care – trees and woody plants in your yard require proper care. Holden can provide plant health care resources and and tree information services.

Holden Programs

Throughout the year, the Arboretum hosts a number of different programs, workshops and classes, designed to teach best practices when it comes to home tree care.

  • Tree pruning – the best and worst thing someone can do to a tree is pruning. Annual classes are held to teach basic principles and workshops are available upon request.
  • Tree planting – the simple act of planting a tree is not so simple. Learn how to properly site a tree so that it reaches its full potential. Inquire about specific site assessment and techniques to inform planting.
  • Industry standard tree care – Quality care is essential to ensure trees remain assets for the community and not liabilities. Learn about industry standards for tree care and the specific activities they encompass.

How to Plant a Tree – Video

How to Prune a Tree – Video

Urban Tree Selection Guide


Additional Resources

Landscape Plant Information

Great information on landscape plants from Edward Gillman, PhD,

professor of Urban Trees & Landscape Plants at the

Univeristy of Florida

For more information on the Arboretum’s Community Forestry program, contact Chad Clink at 440.602.3829 or by email at