The City of Tacoma’s Urban Forestry team, Tacoma Tree Foundation, and partners were hard at work over the last several months creating an inspiring, interactive experience to help envision what the Tacoma Mall neighborhood’s built environment could look like with the addition of more trees. With 9% tree canopy cover in comparison to Tacoma’s 20% average, The Tacoma Mall neighborhood is one of the least forested areas in the city.

In celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day, the “Pop-up” Forest was displayed inside the mall for three days in April and additional days at Tacoma’s Sustainability Expo, allowing visitors to envision a greener space as well as distributing 250 trees to community members throughout the South Sound.

Research has shown trees provide compelling benefits for urban communities including improved mental and physical health, enhanced environmental performance, reduced driving speeds and crime rates. Recent initiatives including the GRIT, or Greening Research in Tacoma, (nicknamed “Grit City”) have drawn attention to the value and importance of trees within the city’s public realm. The Pop-up Forest further explores the role of trees in the Tacoma Mall community by creating a fun and engaging installation that celebrates the intersection of people, their neighborhood and our urban forest.

The immersive experience was created through the use of trees, native plants, mirrors, woodchips, and wooden materials. Creative and visually engaging infographics were featured on the outer walls of the display that provided a summary of Tacoma’s urban forestry information and canopy assessment data. Learn more and listen to or read a recap of the event on NWPB Radio.

This project is tied to a Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) Grant aimed at providing equitable access to trees, greenspaces, and green stormwater infrastructure in Tacoma Mall Regional Growth Center and is funded by the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, administered through the Washington DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program.