By Scott Etkin
This spring, the New York City Parks Department is proposing to plant 392 trees on the Upper West Side. In empty tree beds and patches of sidewalk around the neighborhood, small green and white signs have appeared to mark where the plantings will go.
The new trees will be approximately 15 feet tall and 2.5 to 4 inches in “caliper” (diameter at chest height). These dimensions are “optimal for establishment and survival, and a typical size range of street trees planted throughout the city,” a Parks representative told WSR in an email.
This effort is part of the agency’s routine planting program across NYC, which is funded from a variety of sources, according to the representative. While the plantings are done across the city, the campaign tries to prioritize neighborhoods that are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. Last year, the neighborhoods in Manhattan that were prioritized were: Central Harlem, East Harlem, the Lower East Side, Hamilton Heights, and Manhattanville.
In the city’s last fiscal year, which ended on June 30th, nearly 15,000 trees were planted. This is the highest total in six years but far below the total needed to reach a million trees planted by 2030, which is the target that has been advocated for by the city’s borough presidents. This past January, Community Board 7 voted in support of this idea, which is a continuation of the similar tree-planting campaign that started under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Research has found many benefits to having more trees in urban environments — they help to clean the air, absorb stormwater and carbon dioxide, and cool the temperature on hot days. Details about each of the city’s 800,000+ trees can be found on the live “tree map” that’s maintained by the Parks Department.
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