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For Immediate Release
News Date: February 17, 2021

City of Columbus Announces New Urban Forestry Master Plan is Now Available for Public Comment

COLUMBUS, OH – Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is unveiling its new Urban Forestry Master Plan, which is the first citywide, strategic plan to invest long-term in Columbus’ trees. Over the next decades, the Urban Forestry Master Plan will serve as a blueprint for revitalizing our urban forest and strategically investing in neighborhoods where trees will do the most good.

Columbus faces many challenges today and over the coming decades, and trees are part of the solution. Trees help reduce urban stressors — cleaning our air, providing shade, intercepting stormwater and more. In Columbus, our trees provide $38 million in benefits each year. However, our tree canopy is vulnerable to threats from disease, pests, the changing climate and increased development. To improve our residents’ quality of life, we needed a strategic plan to invest in our trees.

A 2015 Urban Tree Canopy Assessment found that 22 percent of Columbus is covered with trees, much less than peer cities such as Pittsburgh (40 percent) and Cincinnati (39 percent). A comprehensive assessment of Columbus’ urban forest found that, across 32 indicators of a sustainable urban forest, Columbus ranked low or moderate in all categories. This assessment serves as a baseline to measure future progress and emphasizes the need for updated data, proactive management, robust tree protection and community involvement.

“We are excited to share the first Urban Forestry Master Plan with the public,” said Paul Rakosky, interim director of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. “This plan is the culmination of months of work, and we are eager to share our 15 action steps with the community to get their feedback on how we can improve our urban canopy right here in Columbus.”

Through the input of residents, industry experts and urban forestry stakeholders, Columbus has a path forward. The Urban Forestry Master Plan has three goals. One is long-term, and the other two are short-term. All are critical to achieving our vision for Columbus’ urban forest:

  • Goal 1: Reach Citywide Tree Canopy Cover of 40 percent.
  • Goal 2: Stop the Net Canopy Losses by 2030.
  • Goal 3: Invest in Equitable Canopy Across All Neighborhoods by 2030.

To achieve our vision, we must coordinate and collaborate, follow best practices, dedicate resources and enact strong policies. With the Urban Forestry Master Plan, we will prioritize, preserve and grow the tree canopy in Columbus, equitably across neighborhoods, to improve health and quality of life for all of our residents.

The public comment period for the Urban Forestry Master Plan will be held through Wednesday, March 31. People can read the Urban Forestry Master Plan and share their comments by going to