GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Oakhill Cemetery has become the first accredited arboretum in West Michigan.
The city-owned cemetery joins more than 400 accredited arboreta globally, according to a news release Thursday.
The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and Morton Arboretum granted Oakhill accreditation for achieving standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens.
By classifying as a Level I Arboretum, Oakhill Cemetery can serve as an educational space promoting tree diversity, conservation, research and history.
Criteria to reach the designation include an arboretum plan, organizational group or governing body, a minimum of 25 unique tree species, staff or volunteers and at least one annual opportunity for public education.
Level I is the first level, with opportunities to reach up to Level IV with added criteria.
City officials hope to work toward higher accreditation levels in the future.
“This accreditation supports the city’s strategic priority of ensuring the health of people and the environment are advocated for, protected and enhanced,” said David Marquardt, the city’s parks and recreation director. “This collaboration with ArbNet directly supports the department’s mission of responsible management and collaborative stewardship of the city’s natural, educational and cultural resources.”
“Our city cemeteries are more than just final resting places,” said Joe Sulak, the city’s parks superintendent. “They have a history dating back to the early 1800s, serve as places of reflection and contribute to our goals of increasing tree canopy and tree species diversity in Grand Rapids.”