Explore Natural Areas
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​Explore Natural Areas

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The Importance of Natural Areas
There is more to na​tural areas than picturesque landscapes and picnic spots. Natural areas actually perform important ecosystem services for our community. Woodlands, prairies, and wetlands play a vital role in cleaning our air and reducing the amount of pollutants that contaminate our waterways.

  • An average-size tree can intercept as much as 2,380 gallons of stormwater a year.
  • One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces while driving 26,000 miles.
  • A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year. 
  • A single oak tree supports more than 250 species of insects, which are vital to the overall food web. Many birds and mammals also rely on their acorns for survival.
  • Trees can use airborne chemicals and a network of underground fungi to communicate with other trees.
  • Trees filter air pollutants and store carbon, reducing ambient air temperatures and offsetting the heat island effect common in urban areas.
​Natural areas also have significant financial benefits:

  • Every dollar spent on trees yields community benefits including cleaner air, lower energy costs, improved water quality, improved storm water control, and increased property values.
  • In Indianapolis, each dollar invested in the City’s community trees yielded $5.55 in benefits.
  • The 6,522 acres of tree canopy in Indianapolis parks remove 410,139 pounds of air pollutants annually with a financial benefit of $1,475,387. In addition, they remove 53,299,942 pounds of carbon with a financial benefit of $967,679 annually.
  • Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and can save 20–50% in energy costs used for heating.
Natural areas are equally important for the survival of most of our native plants and wildlife. While some animals have adapted to the built environment, most wildlife need a different community – one that includes a diversity of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, insects, and other organisms.

We are committed to protecting Indianapolis’ natural areas in order to provide habitat and community for our native plants and wildlife. Indianapolis is home to at least 59 species of rare, threatened, or endangered plants and wildlife. To date, we have protected nearly 1,700 acres in their defense.

Passive Recreation
Our properties offer Indianapolis residents and visitors access to high-quality park space. Birdwatching and hiking are the most common activities in our park natural areas, providing an opportunity to reconnect to our natural heritage.

Passing on a Conservation Ethic
Forest cover in Indiana has increased since the 1960s, but that isn’t the case in Indy. Development pressure continues to threaten our remaining natural areas. The Office of Land Stewardship works to engage volunteers and educate the public about the inherent value of natural areas. Widespread public awareness of these treasured areas is their best defense.
Like what we're doing? Join us!
There are lots of great ways to get your hands dirty and make an impact in our local natural areas. Click to learn how you can Get Involved​!​​​​​​​​​​​​​​