Urban Forest Initiative

A healthy tree canopy in Downtown Denver is imperative to the livelihood of residents and businesses alike.

The mission of the Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) is to grow Denver’s urban forest through education, built infrastructure, and maintenance.

The benefits of a healthy urban forest are endless, from our health and wellbeing to the vibrancy of our downtown. Trees are not only beautiful but also are essential to the livelihood of Denverites. Trees provide increased property value, higher spending from consumers, higher income streams for businesses, reduced time on the market for real estate listings, and return on investment in terms of ecological and economic benefits.

We struggle to support a healthy tree ecosystem due to Denver’s climate and infrastructure. That does not stop the Partnership and Downtown Denver’s stakeholders from strategically expanding the urban canopy to address the needs of the community.

The Urban Forest Initiative is part of The Outdoor Downtown‘s goal to create vibrant outdoor spaces in Denver’s urban core.

Downtown Denver's current tree canopy
Downtown Denver's future tree canopy
Decrease in crime with an enhanced tree canopy

The Urban Forest Initiative is funded in part by the Downtown Denver Partnership, City and County of Denver, Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, property owners, and the philanthropic community, including Bank of America, FirstBank, and the Zoellner Family.

We have set a goal of $1,000,000 of philanthropic donations to support the Urban Forest Initiative.


Build the Canopy

Growing the urban forest seems simple: plant more trees. However, Downtown Denver’s current built infrastructure does not allow for a tree to live a long and healthy life. A typical downtown tree in a 5’x5’ tree bed only lives on average 12 years and never reaches maturity. However, we know how to build an environment for trees to thrive give many decades of benefits with a robust and mature urban forest. To date, we have worked awarded grants to 28 downtown properties to enlarge existing tree infrastructure and install new high quality tree planting areas. This is a unique opportunity to leverage dollars for the greatest impact since the investment costs of the tree infrastructure improvements are shared between property owners and both public and private entities. Follow our journey to 500 trees here.

Urban Forest Initiative Grant Program - Funding Round 4 Now Open!

This grant program by the Downtown Denver Partnership, Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, and City and County of Denver, with funding support from private donors Bank of America, First Bank and the Zoellner Family Foundation, has the goal of building a robust tree canopy downtown. Property owners can apply for a ‘micro-grant’ for design services, or if design services have already been rendered, they can submit the project description for review by the Urban Forest Initiative Taskforce.

Grant funding can be used for enlarging tree planting spaces and/or installing new tree planting spaces including costs for concrete work, structural cells, soil remediation, suspended pavement systems, tree planting and installation, and other tree-related work.

Apply For A Grant

Cultivate the Culture

The more you know, the more the trees grow. The Urban Forest Initiative encourages community involvement by informing citizens about the economic, ecological, environmental and human benefits of a robust urban forest. Individuals have the power to make a difference.

  • Environmental
    • A 10% increase in urban tree canopy reduces ozone by 3-7%
    • Studies show that a 10% increase in tree canopy corresponded to a 12% decrease in crime
  • Economic
    • Businesses on treescaped streets show 12% higher income streams
    • Studies show that for every $1 invested in tree planting and maintenance, annual benefits ranged from $1.37 to $5.82.
  • Wellness
    • Trees reduce the risk of heart disease, lung disease, and skin cancer.
    • Office workers with a view of trees report significantly less stress and more satisfaction
  • Climate Change Combat
    • One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces while driving 26,000 miles.
    • A mature tree canopy can reduce peak summer temperatures by 2-9 degrees F

Read more about the importance of trees in our center city: 10 Reasons Why Trees Matter to Downtown Denver.

The value added to a property with healthy, mature trees
Businesses on treescaped streets show 12% higher income streams
Children have a 11-19% lower prevalence of obesity compared to those with limited access to green spaces

Maintain the Forest

The Downtown Denver Business Improvement District facilitates the Tree Health Program for commercial property owners in Downtown Denver. Not only does this program relieve property owners of the burden of tree care, but also it helps to support a healthy tree canopy by putting all the downtown trees under a centralized care system. The Tree Health Program cares for approximately 1,800 trees within downtown by providing services, including fertilization, pest management, watering and much more.

Trees are Cared for by the Tree Health Program

Join the Urban Forest Initiative!

We invite the community to be stewards of our beloved trees, volunteer to build the canopy, and/or contribute financially for increased infrastructure and maintenance services.

To contribute towards our goal of $1,000,000 of philanthropic donations, donate here.

Learn more about the Urban Forest Initiative

Feb 4th 2021

Winter Tips for Your Trees

Although trees are dormant during the winter, they don’t hibernate in the traditional...