A million more trees for New York City: Leaders want a greener canopy

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NEW YORK (NYTIMES)- When Mayor Eric Adams named a commissioner recently to oversee New York’s parks department, he spoke of how important the city’s green spaces were for recreation and contemplation, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

But he also acknowledged having no particular agenda or master plan for the more than 12,140 hectares of park land under his control.

On Monday (Feb 14), the city’s five borough presidents will ask Adams to plant 1 million new trees by 2030, a revival of an ambitious and successful “million trees” initiative that started under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and was completed under his successor Bill de Blasio.

The borough presidents will also ask Adams to honour his campaign pledge to devote 1 per cent of the city’s budget to the parks department.

About 22 per cent of the city is covered by tree canopy. The figure has increased about 2 per cent in recent years.

New York has roughly 7 million trees, or fewer than one tree for each of its 8.8 million residents, according to a recent Nature Conservancy report. About 650,000 trees line the streets, but they are not evenly distributed.

The Trust for Public Land, a conservation group that helps create public parks across the United States, found that low-income New Yorkers and people of colour have significantly less available park space than residents of neighborhoods that are mostly white and wealthy. The allotment of trees somewhat follows that pattern.

It is estimated that the streetscape could accommodate 250,000 more trees; the rest of the new plantings would be in parks and other green spaces.

Trees absorb stormwater and carbon dioxide and provide shade in summer, and their density has a measurable effect on the surrounding air temperatures.

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