South Park Arboretum Restoration Project

SPARP_Nurture Grow Sustain_April 26

An Outdoor Museum of Trees

In 1901, during the Pan American Exposition, Buffalo was celebrated not only as the City of Light, but also the City of Trees. This is thanks to the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, and his visionary design of our nation’s first urban park system.

Olmsted’s Design

Included in Olmsted’s designs was an impressive arboretum, or outdoor museum of trees, to be integrated into South Park. Sitting on 156 acres, complete with a picturesque lake, tree-studded meadow, winding carriage drive and pedestrian paths, this extraordinary green space provided park visitors with a unique experience – the opportunity to connect with nature while developing a growing understanding and appreciation for trees, shrubs and aquatic collections. To read about the history of South Park, please download the SPARP brochure.

View brochure

Benefits of Arboretums

Today, arboretums provide outdoor opportunities for educational programming, scientific research and environmental conservation. They are attractions for families, organizations and tourists, while contributing inherently to water, soil and air quality, as well as wildlife and pollinators. These values all add to quality of life, health and the economy. The South Park Arboretum Restoration Project seeks to restore this community asset and ensure its viability for years to come.

The Feasibility Study

In 2018, the Conservancy and its partners completed a feasibility study to conclude that returning Olmsted’s arboretum to South Park is both possible and beneficial to the community. To view/download the complete study, please click here.

View full study

Phased Restoration Progress: Phase 1 is Ongoing

Phase 1 Priorities

  • Establish a safe park and arboretum | This is critical in the beginning stages of a long-term master plan and restoration project. Phase I focuses entirely on improving safety and the overall quality of the trees throughout South Park.
  • Identify and remove hazardous trees | This is a priority of Phase I, as is the pruning of any trees with hazardous limbs.
  • Structural pruning of Olmsted original trees | This step helps to ensure the health and longevity of these legacy trees.
  • To date, approximately sixty Elm and Oak trees have been successfully pruned and can be found flanking Ring Road on the Southern end of South Park.
Learn more about Phase 1

Join BOPC in restoring Olmsted’s South Park Arboretum!

Ways to Support SPARP

Make a donation and/or sponsor the South Park Arboretum Restoration Project to ensure that this important community resource is available for generations to come. To learn more, please contact Catie Stephenson, Director of Development & Communications, at or (716) 838-1249, ext. 22.

FNF Keybank Logo

To learn more, please contact Margaret Lapp, South Park Arboretum Curator, at or (716) 628-7444.