The Mayor's office has approved the funding to allow The Parks Department to plant 20,000 trees a year for the next few years.
However, considering the extreme weather events NYC has been experiencing, some council members say that pace is not fast enough to replenish the city's tree canopy.
According to Shekar Krishnan, Chair of The Committee on Parks and Recreation “This is both a climate justice issue as well as a racial justice issue”. Krishnan explained that “Not only do we need much more tree canopy coverage in the city but this actually affects communities of color disproportionately in the sense that less tree canopy coverage directly translates into hotter temperatures on average for some neighborhoods in the city than others”.
Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Adams agreed to boost the budget for The Parks Department to $624.2M, the largest parks budget in the city's history. The budget added new positions and funding for community gardens and parks equity initiatives, but fall far short of the $1Billion Adams pledged to commit.
The Park's Department controls approximately 22,000 acres of the city's 42,656 acres of tree canopy according to Jennifer Greenfield, The Park's Department Deputy Commissioner for Environment and Planting. The rest of the city's canopy (47%) grows on a combination of private and public land parcels such as residential front and back yards, NYCHA campuses, Cemeteries, vacant land and on public lands not managed by the NYC Parks.
Apparently we are falling short of what we really need according to Queens Council member Bob Holden, saying “ Planting 20,000 trees is a drop in the bucket, considering all the storms we've had in NYC”.
The facts are that 2 tornadoes in 2010 killed more than 40 trees and damaged more than 1,600 and Superstorm Sandy knocked over more than 8,500 trees and caused over $725M in damage to Parks. The concern is that more frequent and severe storms in the near future will result in even more damage to the tree stock, as global warming is expected to cause sea level rise and storms to intensify in the city.
According to Emily Nobel Maxwell of the Nature Conservancy “ We really need to be working more on our heat mitigation strategies and our urban forest plays a critical role”.
As far as the cost of planting trees, $3,600 a tree citywide, a 2018 report shows that Jersey City had paid only $500 for new trees! Let's have New Jersey plant our trees!
To be continued...
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