Native Flags


A healthy, native urban canopy ensures considerable ecosystem services. Native trees provide habitat for local fauna, prevent soil erosion, offer shade and reduce electric bills, increase property values and provide global environmental benefits through the capture of carbon dioxide and the production oxygen from their leaves. Currently, Miami’s average urban canopy cover is 10%, well below the national urban average of 30%. Citizen involvement is crucial to returning tree canopies to our urban landscape.

Native Flags is a participatory eco-art project aimed at rebuilding our native tree canopy one tree at a time. Conceptualized by Miami artist Xavier Cortada, Native Flags engages residents in this urban reforestation effort by encouraging them to plant a native tree and green flag in their front yeard and then encouraging their friends and neighbors to do the same. As your tree grows, community interest in protecting the environment grows with it. Since the Reclamation Project's inception in 2007, over 1,000 native trees and flags have been planted throughout Greater Miami and other parts of Florida including the Treasure Coast and Pinellas County. The Native Flags website  provides a platform for participants to upload pictures and learn more about urban conservation. 

Directed by Miami artist Xavier Cortada, the Native Flags - Urban Reforestation campaign aims to help restore native habitats for plants and animals across Miami-Dade County. The Urban Reforestation installation located at the Deering Estate at Cutler is a self-guided nature trail experience located in three native Florida habitat’s that are protected and preserved on the Estate’s main grounds. The exhibit is viewable during regular Estate hours and free with Estate admission. A self-guided tour of the Urban Reforestation installation is also available. A complementary Indoor Native Flags Exhibit is under development and will be located inside the Visitor Center Exhibit Hall. Visitors to the Native Flags Installation and participants in the Native Flags Project are asked to plant a sapling of a native tree and a green flag in their yard and then encourage their neighbors to do the same. By doing so, residents across the county will reclaim land for native trees displaced long ago by development.

To learn more about the native tree resources in your community below, please visit some of our educational partners:

Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Department
Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources/Adopt-A-Tree
Miami Tree Master Plan Florida
Native Plant Society
Other Native Trees Resources
Miami-Dade Native Tree List
University of Florida's Native Trees
Citizens for a Better South Florida

Native Flags at all 328 Miami-Dade Public Schools - To mark this special day, Miami-Dade County Public Schools partnered with local artist Xavier Cortada to bring his Reclamation Project/Native Flags initiative, a participatory eco-art project to help regrow our native tree canopy, to each of the District’s schools. Prior to Earth Day, each school received a native tree sapling and green project flag that was planted on the school grounds. Upon planting the flag alongside the tree, students proclaimed that they "reclaimed the land for nature.”

WLRN produced an informational video, which can be viewed and enjoyed during Earth Week and particularly on Earth Day, describing the importance of engaging students and the community in planting and nurturing these small tree saplings over time to help increase our native tree canopy.

Village of Palmetto Bay Proclamation – Village of Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flynn issued a proclamation declaring April 14 officially Reclamation Project Day. The proclamation hangs alongside the Native Flags exhibit at the Deering Estate at Cutler Visitor Center.

Through the School Yard Science Program, the Deering Estate at Cutler offers on-site and in-school programming opportunities, lesson plans and teacher education workshops that are designed to bring participatory art and science curriculum to teachers, youth and their families to create global citizens better equipped to provide solutions to critical urban problems today, tomorrow and for our future.

Five complete lesson plans with a concurrent focus on environmental stewardship and ecoart are available to teachers and the general public for free via the website. All programs are correlated to the Sunshine State Standards and are FCAT compatible. They are structured to engage participants in interactive, positive and balanced activities that help foster an understanding and appreciation as they think critically about the world around them.

Conservation in urban areas helps protect our history, our ecosystems, our health, and ultimately has the power to bring people together. The following five lesson plans will help students learn the importance of urban reforestation, how plants are vital to us, how we, as humans, have and continue to interact with our environment, the functions of the ecosystems that surround us, and interconnectedness of nature.

• Urban Reforestation: Make Your Own Pland ID Guide, Taking Care of Urban Forests, Tree's Life Game, Draw an Urban Forest 
• Plants: Plants, Soils, and Nutrients, Oh My!, Oxygen & Elodea, Space for Species, Falling Leaves
• Ethnobotany: Build a Campsite, Ethnobotany Hike, Leaf Preservations, Painting with Nature's Colors
• Systems: Identifying Soil Layers, An Investigation into the Properties of Soil, Field Sampling Techniques, Aquifer Adventure
• Web of Life: Create a Terrarium, The Earth Bowl, Bird Adaptations, The Survival Game

Field Study Trips - The Deering Estate at Cutler is an assured destination for a wealth of experiential and recreation based educational programs that are aligned with local and state standards of learning. The Living Classroom at the Deering Estate at Cutler serves as an environmental education center for all of Miami-Dade County. The 444 acre Estate encompasses globally endangered pine rockland habitat, among the largest blocks of this ecosystem remaining in the United States, as well as coastal tropical hardwood rockland hammocks, mangrove forests, salt marshes, a coastal dune island and the submerged resources of Biscayne Bay. It is one of the few remaining Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) in Miami-Dade County. As well, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. All of our Field Study Trips include web-based, pre- and post-activity guides, interactive tours, on-site projects and can be modified to fit a particular school’s or group’s environmental science and eco-art interests. On-Site Field Study Trips can accommodate up to 4 groups of 30 participants simultaneously. Field Study Trips are led by Education and Interpretive Staff and include one (1) Field Study and one (1) tour/hike during their visit:

Fee: $7 per participant (cost of materials is included in the fee). For more information on the Deering Estate at Cutler’s Native Flags Field Studies, please contact the Education and Interpretive Staff at 305-235-1668 ext. 242. 

Professional Development Workshop
- The Deering Estate at Cutler offers Teacher Workshops to M-DCPS teachers holding a Florida Educator's Certificate and other members of the education community including new teachers, paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, non-instructional personnel and others. These workshops involve a full day of on-site instruction and activities that will emphasize the curriculum for Native Flags. The curriculum includes subject matter in ecology, biology, botany, marine biology, geology, anthropology, and art. This workshop will allow teachers to earn Master Plan Points. Enrollment is through the MDCPS Teacher Education Center. Fee: $7 per participant (cost of materials is included in fee).