New York City (NYC) is excited to share its experience with the Cities4Forests network and learn from member cities’ diversity that closely reflects the city’s population and history of globally-minded people and ideas. As a city with international reach and influence, NYC hopes to become a strong advocate for protecting and conserving the great forests of the world.
“Since its inception, MillionTreesNYC has not only increased NYC’s urban forest, but also engaged thousands of New Yorkers to help clean the city’s air and green its public spaces.”
Assistant Commissioner for Forestry, Horticulture, and Natural Resources, NYC Parks
NYC has been a leader in public urban green spaces for over a hundred years, with approximately 600,000 street trees, 1,700 luscious parks, and thousands of acres of natural forests within its city limits. NYC also depends on a large forested watershed outside its city boundaries to supply its fresh drinking water. This protected forest is the result of generations of planning, conservation, and political leadership by the city.
Maintaining, enriching, and expanding these forest areas and trees is a current priority for numerous reasons including, improved human wellbeing, ambitious environmental goals, greater infrastructure efficiency, resilience planning, water resources, and social equity for its diverse neighborhoods.
NYC has an estimated seven million trees that store about 51,000 tons of carbon every year, thus reducing energy demands ($17 million in savings) and runoff (69 million cubic feet). MillionTreesNYC, one of the 132 PlaNYC initiatives, is a citywide, public-private program that has achieved its ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the city’s five boroughs.
New York City has been a leader in cutting edge urban forestry research at the national and international level and has conducted studies of urban forest issues for more than 100 American cities. New York City is committed to expanding its urban forest knowledge and sharing this with other cities. With NYC’s ambitious resiliency and sustainability commitments, the city is also engaging with land use solutions (including forests) to reduce and mitigate carbon emissions to increase its contribution to the global fight against climate change.
NYC has been a leader in public urban green spaces for decades, but especially in the last decade, with its comprehensive restoration, planting, and preservation programs. The city has approximately 666,000 street trees, hundreds of well-treed parks, and thousands of acres of natural forests within its city limits. NYC also depends on a large forested watershed outside its city boundaries to supply its fresh drinking water. This protected forest is the result of generations of planning, conservation, and political leadership by the city.
Maintaining and restoring these forest areas and trees is a current priority for numerous reasons, including improved human wellbeing, ambitious environmental goals, greater infrastructure efficiency, resilience planning, water resources, and social equity, and local access to nature for its diverse neighborhoods.
NYC, both the Parks Department and its close partner, the Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC), has been a leader in cutting-edge urban forestry research at the local and national level. Based on years of ecological assessment research and analysis on the city’s forested natural areas, a Forest Management Framework was produced. This framework set forth a 25-year road map and call to action to restore and conserve all of the agency’s 7,300 acres of forests. The agency has crews that maintain some of these assets in the field every day, contracts for restoration and invasive species removal, and robust street tree planting and street tree preservation programs, as well as plant procurement systems.
Branching out, the NAC recently conducted a national survey to understand the state of urban forested natural areas land management across the country. They got responses from 111 cities representing 40 states. NYC Parks and NAC believe that the urban forest is critical for people and their quality of life and that it should be equitably maintained and accessible. The organizations also believe that forests are essential in the battle against climate change, especially in moderating rising temperatures. Cities across the country feel similarly, and trees as a “shadow” resource need to be paid more attention to.
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