Parks Department Announces Highest Tree Planting Total in 6 Years

On Tuesday, NYC Parks announced that it has surpassed tree planting totals from the prior fiscal year, solidifying this administration's ongoing commitment to protect and expand the city's urban forest. As of June 3, Parks has planted 13,154 trees across the city, and expects to plant a total of 14,900 by June 30.

This is the highest tree planting total in the past six fiscal years and marks two consecutive fiscal years of tree planting growth across the five boroughs. In addition, Parks has expanded its commitment to M/WBE contractors for tree planting, and continues to focus its plantings in vulnerable areas, as guided by the Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI).

Foliage in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Photo: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks.

“Our trees are the lungs of our city, helping to clean our air, beautify our streets and parks, provide shade, and absorb stormwater, and I'm so proud of NYC Parks' work to expand these vital resources with another milestone year,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Our trees remain some of the best natural infrastructure we have, and our administration will continue to be champions for the ongoing expansion and protection of our city's urban forest.”

NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue.
Photo courtesy of NYC Parks.

“Since day one of my tenure as Parks Commissioner, I have made it our mission to continue our work of protecting and expanding the city's urban forest, and today we are celebrating yet another milestone in our tree planting efforts,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue.

“Thanks to the ongoing support from the Adams Administration, our tree planting program, which strategically targets heat vulnerable neighborhoods, is the most robust it has been in six years, and we will continue to focus our efforts on greening the city and planting trees where they're needed most.”

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“This is a great step forward for expanding the urban tree canopy and advancing climate justice in communities with high heat vulnerability,” said Victoria Cerullo, Acting Executive Director, Mayor's Office of Climate & Environmental Justice. “These trees will improve air quality, improve our city's parks and open spaces, and cool neighborhoods vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat.”

13,100+ Trees Planted Across the City in FY23

Coming off a milestone tree planting year in FY22, Parks has surpassed this milestone in FY23 with 13,154 trees planted as of early June, marking the second consecutive year of tree planting growth. With an expected total of 14,900 trees planted by June 30, representing plantings both on streets and in parks, this effort underscores Parks' ongoing commitment to expanding the City's urban forest.

NYC Tree Map. Courtesy of NYC Parks.

M/WBE Contracts

The agency's efforts to recruit and onboard new contractors, especially minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs), is paying off. Since 2021, Parks has brought on seven new M/WBE contractors who have helped increase the pool of bidders for tree planting contracts to plant more trees across the city. Nearly 4,400 trees were planted on M/WBE Small Purchase Contracts over the past two fiscal years, doubling down on Parks' commitment to equity, not just in neighborhood greenspaces, but in the allocation of contracts and resources.

Photo: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks.

Plantings in Heat Vulnerable Areas Neighborhoods

In an effort to curb heat impacts due to climate change, Parks has prioritized planting trees in neighborhoods most at risk. Among the 13,150 new trees planted in FY23, more than 5,700 of the new plantings are in heat vulnerable neighborhoods, guided by the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI neighborhoods), a tool grounded in climate and racial justice that identifies communities carrying the greatest burden of heat-related health impacts (HVI 1-5 with 5=highest risk)

Some Of These HVI Neighborhoods Include:

  • Bronx: Williamsbridge, Woodlawn, Eastchester, Edenwald, Soundview, Morris Park, Norwood
  • Brooklyn: East Flatbush, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Flatlands, Sunset Park, Canarsie, Cypress Hills, Fort Greene, Stuyvesant Heights
  • Manhattan: Central Harlem, East Harlem, Lower East Side, Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville
  • Queens: Hunters Point, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Elmhurst, Laurelton, South Ozone Park, St. Albans, Flushing, Woodside
Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher.
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn St. Patrick's Committee.

Since 2017, 15,677 street and park trees were planted in HVI-5 neighborhoods, with an estimated 9,700 more to be planted through Spring 2024. Thanks to an additional $136 million allocated by the Adams administration for the program, Parks expects to plant trees in every viable place in HVI-4 and HVI-5 neighborhoods by 2026. 

NYC Parks actively cares for more than 800,000 mapped trees—650,000 street trees and more than 150,000 trees in parks—across the city. In December 2022, Parks debuted the NYC Tree Map—a first-of-its-kind living tree map showcasing nearly one million individually managed City trees. The NYC Tree Map includes newly mapped park trees that have unique IDs, species information, and maintenance status, allowing New Yorkers to digitally interact with all 800,000+ landscaped park and street trees in real time.

This post first appeared on brooklyneagle.com


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