Nature Forward Receives $1.35 Million Federal Grant to Increase Tree Equity
New trees and native plant gardens will bring ecological benefits to urban communities
For Immediate Release – September 19, 2023
CHEVY CHASE, MD – A $1.35 million federal grant will give a monumental boost to Nature Forward’s efforts to foster a healthier environment for people and wildlife across the DC region. The funding, announced recently as part of a $1 billion investment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, will support programs designed to increase equitable access to trees and nature in all 50 states, two U.S. territories, three U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands, and several Tribes through the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.
Nature Forward, along with other organizations and municipalities in the region including Chesapeake Bay Trust, Defensores de la Cuenca, Casey Trees in DC and the City of Fairfax, Va., will use the funds for a variety of initiatives from arborist training programs to establishing an urban forest awareness campaign.
“Our vision is to create a larger and more diverse community of people who treasure the natural world and work to preserve it,” said Nature Forward Executive Director Lisa Alexander. “This historic investment is a huge win for our region because it will help make nature more accessible to all communities.”
Nature Forward will work with grassroots partners in historically marginalized DC metro area communities with low tree canopy cover. This work will include engaging and training residents to cooperatively install 1,000 native trees and pollinator gardens as part of a five-year project called “Tree-cosystems.” Pairing trees with native plant gardens will provide urban communities with more of the ecological benefits of forest ecosystems and reduce long-term tree maintenance needs.
Nature Forward’s Tree-cosystems project will be integrated into ongoing community outreach and conference events. The organization’s community outreach initiatives include its Ward 8 Water Watchers in collaboration with The Green Scheme, DC Greens and Friends of Oxo Run in Washington, D.C.; Water Protectors of Little Hunting Creek, a partnership between United Community, Audubon Estates, and Sequoyah in Fairfax County, and ¡Sí Se Puede!, a Long Beach collaboration with CHEER (Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research.
Since 2016, the organization has hosted five Taking Nature Black conferences and four Naturally Latinos conferences to create spaces for environmental professionals of color to connect and advance environmental justice initiatives. The Tree-cosystems project will be folded into ongoing conference and community outreach. The dates for the next Naturally Latinos Conference are Jan 24-27, 2024.
“The Forest Service has supported not just our conferences, but also our extensive outreach activities in communities around the DC region,” said Alison Pearce, Deputy Director for Programs. “We are proud to be a trusted partner as we work collectively toward nature-based solutions to the extreme weather events that we are unfortunately experiencing with increasing frequency.”
Trees are good for the planet and for people. That’s because trees sequester carbon, provide cooling, and help reduce stormwater runoff, just to name a few benefits.
Nature Forward has long championed trees and forests through its advocacy and education programs. In October, Nature Forward will offer three tree-centered nature outings including an opportunity to go forest bathing at Woodend Nature Sanctuary on 10/22.
“When you plant a tree, you offer a lasting gift that generations can appreciate,” Alexander said.
About Nature Forward: Throughout its history, Nature Forward, first established in 1897 as the Audubon Society of the District of Columbia, has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. Nature Forward’s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.