planting a million trees

The community of trees growing in a city is called its urban forest and New York Ciry’s urban forest is our most valuable environmental asset – covering 24 percent of the five boroughs with more than five million trees representing 168 different species. Yet, while we have some of the greatest parks and most beautiful tree-lined streets in the world, many of New York City’s neighborhoods are without sufficient tree canopy. To help improve the overall well-being of all New Yorkers, the city’s urban forest must be expanded in all five boroughs, particularly in those communities with great need for green space. 

Prior to MillionTreesNYC, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and other local organizations with greening agendas were collectively able to plant approximately 15,000 trees annually. Today, under the MillionTreesNYC initiative, the Parks Department, NYRP and partner organizations are planting in excess of 100,000 trees each year – focusing on neighborhoods with the greatest need for green, including Trees for Public Health (TPH) neighborhoods with fewer than average street trees and higher than average rates of asthma among young people.

Where MillionTreesNYC is Planting

When planting one million new trees in a city as large as New York City, you have to start somewhere. Many trees create the greatest benefit and NYRP is working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, community partners and private landowners – taking a block-by-block approach – to identify potential tree-planting opportunities on both public and private properties throughout the city. Single-family homes; schoolyards and playgrounds; public housing developments; cultural institutions; community and senior centers; co-ops, condominiums and rental buildings; college and corporate campuses; business districts and cemeteries – all represent sites where New York City’s urban forest can expand and thrive.

In addition, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation has targeted six Trees for Public Health neighborhoods (TPH) where the need for trees is greatest: Hunts Point and Morrisania in the Bronx, East New York in Brooklyn, East Harlem in Manhattan, the Rockaways in Queens and Stapleton in Staten Island. These neighborhoods have fewer than average street trees and higher than average rates of asthma among young people, and it is believed that additional trees in these areas will reduce the pollutants that trigger respiratory disorders – and contribute to healthier living standards.

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