By Jerome Delbridge, IFA Urban Forest Preservation Director
Monday May 21, under an old chinquapin oak, forest advocates gathered to learn about Indiana Forest Alliance?s newest program, Forests for Indy. As described in this front page IndyStar article, Forests for Indy is an initiative to identify the most valuable forests in Indianapolis and create a comprehensive plan for protection of each of them — so Indianapolis can be guaranteed a forested future.
Urban forests are immensely valuable for conservation of our natural heritage and they have the power to improve the health of neighbors who live near them. These forests clean the air, cool the surrounding neighborhood, offer places to play and reduce life?s stress. They provide a refuge for migrating birds and a place in a city for nature to thrive.
Forests for Indy was born out of the successful struggle to save Crown Hill North Woods. We discovered other forests in Indianapolis worthy of protection, including Haverstick Woods on the northeast side. To maintain forested areas in our city for future generations, we must actively seek to protect this land from development.
The first phase of the program is to identify valuable forests that are not currently protected. Combining datasets and high-resolution imagery as well as neighborhood input, we will be mapping forests throughout Marion County. These forests will be prioritized based on their size, quality and benefits both ecologically and to the neighbors who live nearby.
Next, a comprehensive conservation plan will be written for each of the the top forests identified. A unique strategy for protection will be laid out as well as policy recommendations that will support a city that supports healthy and resilient forests.
Take a walk in a forest near you and take a moment to be immersed in the vibrancy of life all around you. Invite a neighbor or friend to join you and be aware of the complexity of the forest from the forest floor to the canopy. These places are sacred and?need protected for future residents.
Take a stand for our neighborhood forests?and make a contribution: the more resources we have, the more forests we can save. Give by July 1?via our GoFundMe campaign to match an initial donation from the Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust. The more funding, the more forests we can protect.