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Forest Lawn Cemetery

Battlefields & Cemeteries

Forest Lawn Cemetery
Buffalo, New York

Forest Lawn Cemetery, the first planned green space in western New York, is a nationally recognized landscape designed in rural cemetery and memorial park styles. In 2011, The Forest Lawn Group selected Heritage Landscapes to refine a future vision for the 267-acre cemetery based on a documented and compelling past. With project funding from the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Forest Lawn Cemetery Landscape Renewal Plan analyzed landscape evolution, recorded existing conditions and provided a comprehensive stewardship plan that preserves and enhances landscape character. As part of the process, the arboretum-quality tree collection was inventoried, GPS located, and digitized as database for ongoing care. The tree renewal strategy responded to historic losses and devastation from a severe snow storm in October 2006.  The Heritage Landscapes and Forest Lawn Cemetery team collaborated with professional foresters and forestry students from the Buffalo area to conduct a comprehensive tree inventory and conditions assessment of more than 3,300 trees.  The study identified opportunities for replanting historic and recent losses.  The phased recapture of the tree collection and woodland canopy will return the forest to Forest Lawn. 

The Landscape Renewal Plan acknowledged past influences, increased understanding of both historic and contemporary landscape features, and collaboratively planned for renewal that would bring this national resource into broader recognition and increased integrity of character.  Cemetery evolution from 1849 to the mid-1960s was cumulative and important at Forest Lawn.  The landscape reflected the hand of cemetery designers Adolph Strauch, Joseph Earnshaw, William H. Gratwick III, and Ray F. Wyrick, as well as past superintendents.  Successive losses of trees to Dutch elm disease, original road removals, filling of water bodies, storm impacts, and overall tree canopy decline affected the cohesion of the Forest Lawn landscape.  This planning effort shaped a coherent vision and provided physical form to Forest Lawn’s commitment of stewarding its valued cultural landscape for the future of Buffalo.

The Forest Lawn Group

Forest Lawn Cemetery Landscape Renewal Plan

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners