- Why is Plant the Gem a Special Project?
Why is Plant the Gem a Special Project?
Flossmoor’s diverse, robust and healthy urban forest is a signature of the community’s beauty, but the trees that line our streets are more than just beautiful. They also serve an important role in the health and vibrancy of our community.
Not only do trees improve air and water quality, reduce flooding, reduce the urban heat island effect, and reduce energy costs by shading buildings, they also provide habitat for local wildlife and improve our quality of life by reducing crime rates, increasing property value, and boosting social cohesion in neighborhoods.
According to the Chicago Regional Trees Initiative, one of the Village’s partners for Plant the Gem, urban trees are critical infrastructure, just like roads, storm sewers or water mains. Studies show that the size and health of a tree canopy directly relates to the benefits and services the trees provide and the canopy’s ability to offset impacts from urban living.
All of these benefits are reason enough for the Village of Flossmoor to promote tree preservation and advocacy in the community, but with the Plant the Gem project on the horizon, Flossmoor is taking a large step in becoming one of the southland’s leading tree communities.
Based on data collected by CRTI, 43 percent of Flossmoor’s current land cover is dedicated to trees, or canopy cover. Of the remaining 61 percent of land cover, 39 percent is deemed “plantable” by CRTI, giving Flossmoor the unique opportunity to expand its tree canopy even further.
Working alongside stewards with CRTI, the Flossmoor Green Commission and members of the Public Works Department, the Village has identified planting locations for the more than 300 trees for Plant the Gem. While all of the trees will be planted along the route of the Hidden Gem Half Marathon, many will be planted in neighborhoods with a smaller and younger urban canopy, such as Heather Hill and Ballantrae.
Plant the Gem is more than benefiting Flossmoor, though. As part of this potentially record-setting tree planting, organizers and CRTI see the project as a starting point, a blueprint, for other communities to follow suit. As part of CRTI’s “Master Plan,” its strategic planning guide, the organization hopes to expand its partner municipalities beyond its current 200 to ensure that trees are healthier, more abundant, more diverse, and more equitably distributed to provide needed benefits to people and communities across the Chicago region by 2050.