Forest Lawn Announces Arboretum Designation

Forest Lawn Announces Arboretum Designation


April 26, 2024


Fittingly, on Arbor Day, Forest Lawn Cemetery hosted its first annual “State of the Arboretum.”

The historic cemetery announced its new accreditation as a “Level I Arboretum,” as designated by ArbNet, an international network of tree-focused professionals.

By earning this accreditation, Forest Lawn becomes just the third arboretum in the City of Buffalo, joining SUNY Buffalo State’s Maud Gordon Holmes Arboretum and Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy’s South Park Arboretum.

In broad terms, an arboretum is a botanical garden specializing in trees or woody plants. Arboreta across the globe conduct scientific research and conservation, engage in public outreach and education, and manage beautiful and diverse tree collections.

“We are very proud to have Forest Lawn accredited as a Level I Arboretum,” said Julie R. Snyder, chief executive officer of the Forest Lawn Cemetery Group. “It is a testament to the significance of our tree collection and the importance of not only preserving but renewing and revitalizing a canopy that has diminished over time due to the effects of age, as well as damage caused by Dutch elm disease, the “October Surprise” storm of 2006 and other events.”

In addition to its new arboretum designation, Forest Lawn also announced that Andrew Howard, a longstanding member of the cemetery’s Grounds team, has earned an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) Certified Arborist credential. Certified Arborists have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care.

“This is the first time the cemetery has had a Certified Arborist on staff,” Snyder said. “Andy’s knowledge and experience will be key to ensuring that our tree canopy is preserved, enhanced and well cared for.”

Snyder also announced that in furtherance of Forest Lawn’s Landscape Renewal Plan, a comprehensive study that was underwritten by the John R. Oishei Foundation and completed in 2012, the cemetery has partnered with Davey Tree to conduct a full inventory of all trees within the historic cemetery’s 269 acres. The first phase of this work has been completed, with the identification of more than 2,400 trees, including 110 distinct species across 20% of the cemetery, and the inventory continues. The plan also includes deployment of new “Treekeeper” software, which tracks the current tree inventory in real time. Visitors to Forest Lawn now have access to this information, allowing them to locate specific species of trees within the cemetery through a link on the Forest Lawn website.

Funded by the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation, the Tree Inventory Analysis and Management Plan compliments the Landscape Renewal Plan and will create the roadmap for management of the cemetery’s tree collection for the next 25 years, leading up to Forest Lawn’s bicentennial in 2049.

Lastly, Snyder announced that the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation has launched a “Friends of the Forest” committee to assist the cemetery with plan implementation, funding, programming and advocacy.

“As we prepare to celebrate Forest Lawn’s 175th anniversary this year, our vision is to fully restore this magnificent landscape in advance of our bicentennial,” Snyder said.

In closing the cemetery’s first annual State of the Arboretum, Snyder was joined by Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation Chairman Charles Kreiner, Jr and the cemetery’s Certified Arborist Andy Howard for the ceremonial planting of a cherry tree.