New York City has one of the most extensive urban forests in the world, with an estimated 7 million trees covering 21% of the city’s land area. In this blog post, we’ll learn about what is an urban forest, why it’s important, where you can find it, and how you can get involved. Onward!
What are urban forests?
An urban forest is a distinct and integrated ecosystem composed of trees, vegetation, and other natural elements within an urban or metropolitan area. It encompasses both public and private lands, such as parks, streets, yards, gardens, and institutional campuses.
Why is the urban forest important?
Besides being nice to look at, urban forests provide a variety of benefits, including:
- Air pollution reduction: Trees help to clean the air by absorbing pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone. This can improve respiratory health and reduce the risk of asthma attacks.
- Stormwater management: Trees help to slow down and absorb stormwater runoff, which can help to prevent flooding.
- Heat island effect mitigation: Trees help to cool the city by providing shade and transpiring water vapor. This can help to reduce the urban heat island effect, which is a phenomenon that causes cities to be hotter than surrounding areas.
- Ecological benefits: Trees provide a habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. They also help to connect different parts of the city’s ecosystem.
- Economic benefits: Trees can increase property values, boost tourism, and improve mental health. They also provide a valuable recreational resource for residents and visitors alike.
Where is this urban forest?
It’s spread across the five boroughs! Here are some highlights if you’re looking to explore:
Pelham Bay Park
Did you know that Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx is the largest park in New York City? Covering 2,766 acres, this vast green expanse embraces a diverse ecosystem, including a rich and vibrant urban forest. Visitors can explore the park’s numerous trails and encounter majestic oak and tulip trees, among others. With its extensive woodlands and salt marshes, Pelham Bay Park offers an escape to nature within the city limits.
No discussion about the urban forest in NYC would be complete without mentioning Central Park. Sprawling across 843 acres, this iconic green space boasts over 20,000 trees of more than 175 different species. It acts as a crucial refuge for migratory birds and provides a much-needed escape from the city’s fast-paced rhythm. Surrounded by towering trees, meandering paths, and tranquil ponds, Central Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts.
The High Line
The High Line, an elevated park built on a historic freight rail line, is another testament to NYC’s commitment to integrating nature into urban landscapes. As you stroll along this elevated pathway, you’ll encounter a diverse range of trees, shrubs, and flowers. The park is home to over 500 species of plants, some of which are native to the area, creating a unique and captivating urban forest experience.
Located in Brooklyn, Prospect Park is another large park with a rich tree canopy. It features a variety of tree species, including majestic oaks, maples, and towering evergreens. The park’s arboretum, known as the Litchfield Villa, showcases a collection of unique and rare trees as well.
Located in Queens, Forest Park is renowned for its lush greenery and forested areas. The park encompasses over 500 acres and contains various tree species, making it a popular spot for nature enthusiasts. If you do stop by, make sure to visit the Oak Ridge section of the park, which is known for its impressive collection of oak trees.
Van Cortlandt Park
Found in the Bronx, Van Cortlandt Park is another notable park with a significant tree population. It features a mix of mature trees, including oak, maple, and beech, among others. Check out Temboo’s water quality project with Van Cortlandt Park.
Looking to get involved?
Volunteer with a local tree-planting or tree-care organization. Here are some groups that are working to protect and improve the urban forest in NYC:
- MillionTreesNYC: This nonprofit organization is working to plant and care for 1 million trees across the five boroughs by 2025. This ambitious project not only contributes to the urban forest’s expansion but also improves air quality, reduces stormwater runoff, and enhances the overall quality of life for residents.
- Forest for All NYC: This coalition of organizations is working to ensure that the urban forest benefits all New Yorkers, regardless of their zip code.
- NYC Department of Parks and Recreation: This city agency is responsible for the care and maintenance of over 2 million trees in New York City parks.
You can also get involved by planting a tree in your yard or on your block, or by contacting your elected officials and urging them to support policies that protect trees.
Have you been looking for a way to collect environmental data related to trees, such as air quality, soil moisture, or water quality? You’re at the right place! Please contact us to learn how Temboo can help you!