The Greening of Detroit: Vital Revitalization


Detroit has suffered serious economic decline over the past few decades, culminating in filing bankruptcy in July of 2013 and a loss of over 25% of the population. However, plans are underway to restore the city, which includes making the city a greener and more vibrant place.

The Greening of Detroit, this quarter’s Natural World beneficiary, is a non-profit organization with the goal of “inspiring sustainable growth of a healthy urban community through trees, green spaces, food, education, training and job opportunities.” Since its establishment in 1989, the organization has planted over 81,000 trees in multiple cities and by the year 2025, The Greening plans to invest in a more sustainable future for the city by increasing the percent of tree canopy cover of the city of Detroit from 22.5% to 40%.

Planting trees is beneficial to a community in a multitude of ways. Some of the most obvious benefits are carbon sequestration–the process of capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide–and air filtration, but there are less conspicuous benefits as well, such as preventing water pollution by reducing runoff. Other benefits also include decreasing surrounding temperatures, preventing erosion, and providing a habitat for wildlife.

One of The Greening of Detroit’s latest projects is along the Rouge River in Rouge Park, where over 600 trees were planted this fall and over 1000 more are planned to come. It is estimated that planting these trees in the 1,184 acre park will provide approximately $2.84 million in benefits, storing 19,600 tons of carbon and reducing surface runoff by an estimated 2.74 million cubic feet— respectively, a $1.40 million and $185,000 value annually.

Incorporating tree canopies into urban planning is an important step toward creating a more sustainable future and “is vitally important to the health and well-being of the city, and we are committed to continue our efforts to grow a greener, healthier urban environment.” The Greening of Detroit is leading the way in this city which desperately needs it, but unfortunately, it is having difficulty keeping up with the need for additional trees, so donating to their cause is also vital.

Rouge Park before:

Rouge Park Reforestation_straight

And after: