Heights Libraries preps for urban mini-forest installation
Beginning this fall, Heights Libraries will partner with Heights Tree People to build a mini-forest behind the Coventry PEACE Building. The Heights Libraries Urban Mini-Forest project is supported, in part, by residents of Cuyahoga County through a public tree planting and maintenance grant from Cuyahoga Healthy Urban Tree Canopy.
The mini-forest will comprise the planting of 62 large canopy trees and 150 understory trees and plants, prioritizing native species to help expand Cleveland Heights’ tree canopy.
“The urban mini-forest is a unique library project that allows us to expand our services beyond the walls of the library buildings,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “We are excited to offer a space for environmental programming. This is an opportunity for us to model environmental stewardship at the PEACE Park.”
Preparation for the forest, including mulching and selective tree removal based on recommendations from a certified arborist, began in August. To prepare the site, seven trees will be removed, including a dead pin oak, invasive Norway maples, and a hollow red maple. A portion of the existing asphalt area will be removed and reforested. Tree planting will begin in spring 2024.
The project is a partnership with trained forestry professionals and Heights Tree People, a community-based volunteer group that specializes in tree planting and has planted more than 950 new trees in Cleveland Heights and University Heights since 2019.
“The Coventry mini-forest will grow to shade and cool the area, freshen the air, provide habitat for other species, build connections among neighbors, and give space for children and adults to spend time in the woods. This project is a step toward healing the Earth,” said Heights Tree People co-founder Laura Marks.
The mini-forest is part of Heights Libraries’ overarching urban forestry goals to expand and maintain the urban tree canopy to promote biodiversity and canopy health, offer free outdoor programming that encourages community stewardship of trees, and support workforce development opportunities in the PEACE Park.
“We are thrilled to partner with Heights Tree People to promote community forestry,” said Levin. “The library is committed to responsible stewardship of the PEACE Park, and the urban mini-forest project is the start of many improvements to this important green space.”
Community members who are interested in volunteering or learning more about the mini-forest project can visit www.heightstreepeople.com.
Kaela Sweeney is the strategic projects manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.