Forests for Indy

Launched in spring 2018 by the Indiana Forest Alliance, Forests For Indy is a proactive, collaborative effort to identify and preserve forests remaining in Indianapolis. Read on … and if you love this idea, please donate via our Go Fund Me campaign. Take our Forests for Indy Citizen Survey.

Why Does Indianapolis Need Forest Preservation?

Indy residents enjoy a 100-year-old oak tree at Crown Hill North Woods.

Urban forests are vulnerable. As more people choose to live in Indianapolis, the more green space we’ll need — but the less we are likely to have — unless we create a plan for forest preservation. Planting trees is an important component of building our urban forest, but cannot keep pace with current tree loss.

Marion County’s current tree canopy is 33%, averaged across townships. Experts recommend a 40% to 60% tree canopy for cities located within this climate zone, with the goal of reducing urban heat island temperatures and reducing stormwater runoff.  To achieve just 40%, we would need–today–to plant 2.4 million trees, each with a 20-foot canopy: an impractical, costly feat.

To keep Indianapolis vibrant, green and livable, we need to conserve much of the forest that remains in Marion County. This 6/4/18 Indy Star front-page news story explains why.

Developing coordinated healthy tree canopy programs across various land ownerships can help sustain desired tree cover levels and better manage cover change. (David J. Nowak, U.S. Forest Service senior scientist, quoted in “U.S. Cities are Losing 4 Million Trees Per Year,” 2/9/12,

The solution is growing in our city’s backyard: forests worthy of preservation.

The Forests for Indy Process

  1. Identify and map currently unprotected forests in Marion County utilizing existing advanced mapping data with advice from an advisory team.
  2. Assess forest quality based on remote sensing and on-ground evaluation.
  3. Prioritize the most valuable forests in Marion County based on the community input.
  4. Preserve the forests recommending and enacting the most feasible strategies for protection, maintenance, and accessibility.

WILL YOU DONATE in support of this project? Give by July 1 to match an initial donation from the Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust. The more funding we have, the more forests we can protect.

Download the Forests For Indy Fact Sheet.

What Forests Do for Cities

Forests Foster Wildlife: As anchors of biodiversity, urban forests serve as havens for sensitive plants and animals that have very limited or no habitat elsewhere for large distances.

Forests Improve Human Health: People living near green space are more physically active, have extended life spans, and report greater overall well-being. Even seeing natural spaces has been proven to effectively reduce stress, especially if initial stress levels are high (see U.S. Forest Service, “Urban Nature for Human Health and Well-being,” 2/1/18). Wild spaces provide natural opportunities for play through all stages of life.

Forests Provide Environmental Services: City trees have a proven track record of cooling summer heat, cleaning the air, and improving water quality. The most significant cost of neighborhood trees is planting and ongoing maintenance, but preserving forest tracts minimizes these costs while maximizing benefits.

Forests Support a Growing Economy: An urban forest enhances property values for the surrounding community and makes a neighborhood more attractive to neighbors by providing opportunities for recreational use and enjoyment of nature.

Forests Offer Quality of Life for All: There is a correlation between access to urban green spaces and socioeconomic status. Preserving forests give us an opportunity to help remedy systemic inequalities in our community.

Forests Meet Land Use Goals:  Preserving critical environmental areas is one of the ten widely accepted smart growth principles. And Marion County’s Comprehensive Plan lists enhancing the unique characteristics of all communities as one of six livability principles that should guide future development decisions.

Forests Help Meet Land Use Core Values: Plan 2020 Bicentennial Agenda for Indianapolis lists the following core values, all realized through preservation of Indianapolis’s forests: A More Resilient City, A Healthier City, A More Inclusive City, A More Competitive City. A city with a good forest canopy should provide hope to current residents and be attractive to new residents and businesses looking for a healthy place to live and operate.

Love the Concept? Help Sustain It!

Forests for Indy is made possible by funds from the Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust, Ann M. & Chris Stack, and the Amos Butler Audubon Society. Help sustain the project: contribute today.

Project Leadership

Rae Schnapp, Ph.D., Conservation Director
Jerome Delbridge, Urban Forest Preservation Project Director (consultant)