Manuel Alarcon is 2018 Recipient of Helen Sternberg Cutler Memorial Scholarship in Urban Forestry

By Lewis Cutler

I am pleased to announce that Manuel A. Alarcon, a senior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), was awarded the Helen Sternberg Cutler Memorial Scholarship in Urban Forestry for 2018. He will be graduating with a BS in Forest Resources Management. He is exactly the kind of recipient to honor the memory of my mother, Helen Cutler, who was always planting trees in urban environments. 

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Urban Forests Focus of 2018 UN International Day of Forests

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly declared that 21 March of each year is to be observed as the International Day of Forests.

2018 Theme: Forests and Sustainable Cities

This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of woodlands and trees, and celebrate the ways in which they sustain and protect us.

Key Messages:

  • Forests and trees store carbon, which helps mitigate the impacts of climate change in and around urban areas.
  • Trees also improve the local climate, helping to save energy used for heating by 20-50 percent.
  • Strategic placement of trees in urban areas can cool the air by up to 8 degrees Celsius, reducing air conditioning needs by 30 percent.
  • Urban trees are excellent air filters, removing harmful pollutants in the air and fine particulates.
  • Trees reduce noise pollution, as they shield homes from nearby roads and industrial areas.
  • Local populations use the fruits, nuts, leaves and insects found in urban trees to produce food and medicines for use in the home, or as a source of income.
  • Wood fuel sourced from urban trees and planted forests on the outskirts of cities provides renewable energy for cooking and heating, which reduces pressures on natural forests and our reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Forests in and around urban areas help to filter and regulate water, contributing to high-quality freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people. Forests also protect watersheds and prevent flooding as they store water in their branches and soil.
  • Well-managed forests and trees in and around cities provide habitats, food and protection for many plants and animals, helping to maintain and increase biodiversity.
  • Forests in cities and surrounding areas generate tourism, create tens of thousands of jobs and encourage city beautification schemes, building dynamic, energetic and prosperous green economies.
  • Urban green spaces, including forests, encourage active and healthy lifestyles, improve mental health, prevent disease, and provide a place for people to socialize.


NYC Parks Deployment to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

A Puerto Rican flag painted on the roots of an uprooted tree in Old San Juan. Photos Courtesy NYC Parks

In this post, NYC Parks Arborists Jessica Einhorn and Brooke Costanza answer questions about their deployment to San Juan, Puerto Rico from October 29-November 13, 2017. They were the first two NYC Parks arborists to be deployed to Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on September 20, 2017 with sustained winds of 155 mph.

In addition to causing widespread human misery, Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the Island’s trees. A total of eight teams of New York City employees traveled to Puerto Rico to help out; each group was assembled based on what San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s staff identified as a priority. Einhorn and Costanza performed forestry inspections with other NYC Parks staff and the NYC Office of Emergency Management.

NYC Parks Arborists and story authors Brooke Costanza (left) and Jessica Einhorn (right)

Were your assessments guiding the work of arborists coming right behind you?
Jessica Einhorn and Brooke Costanza: Absolutely they were. When we first arrived, it was apparent that the local government resources were stretched very thin, so we were tasked with creating our own plan of action on the spot. We started surveying the largest parks and created reports with recommendations for necessary tree work. After speaking with local Parks staff, we sent for additional NYC Parks’ arborists, climbers and pruners to help carry out this recommended work, as there were not adequate resources and expertise on the Island. At the end of our deployment, the arborists who took over continued inspecting trees throughout the City of San Juan.

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Urban Tree of Merit: Overcup Oak

Overcup oak acorn Chris Evans, University of Illinois,
The underside of the overcup oak acorn. Photo by Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

Tree of Merit: Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata)
Story by Cene Ketcham, Extension Arborist, Casey Trees

Overcup oak (Quercus lyrata)—sometimes known as swamp post oak or water white oak—is a tough shade tree in the white oak group. Though it can sometimes be difficult to source, its popularity for use along streets and in the landscape has been increasing—a testament to the growing interest in this species. At first glance, overcup oak is sometimes confused with swamp white oak (Q. bicolor), post oak (Q. stellata), or with its close relative, bur oak (Q. macrocarpa). Although it shares some attributes with these species, closer inspection reveals a tree with a character all its own. 

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City Forest Credits (Formerly Urban Forest Carbon Registry) Update



Mark McPherson headshot

By Mark McPherson, Director, City Forest Credits

A year ago, I wrote for the Council blog about the Urban Forest Carbon Registry, a non-profit organization based in Seattle. The Registry developed the first-ever Tree Preservation Carbon Protocol that enables urban forest preservation projects to earn carbon credits and bring in new funding sources. The Registry is working with urban foresters in a number of cities to help them develop both preservation and planting programs. In addition, many urban forest professionals serve as advisors and protocol drafters for the Registry. Here’s an update.

New Name: City Forest Credits

The Registry recently announced a name change: City Forest Credits. It’s still a non-profit registry issuing Carbon+ Credits for city forests (more about the “+” later). We found that the terms “urban” and “urban forestry” do not connect well with either funders or the person on the street. By contrast, the word “City” ties to resilient cities, smart cities, carbon neutral cities. We also believe that the buyers of City Forest Carbon+ Credits will include sustainability and water-neutrality buyers, so we wanted to emphasize the credit as well as the carbon. 

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Thirteen NY Communities Awarded 2018 Arbor Day Grants

Magella Owen and Rajesh from HS of American Studies at Lehman College. by Anthony Thoman
photo Anthony Thoman

From Brian Skinner, Council Treasurer and Arbor Day Grant Program Chair

The NYS Urban Forestry Council Arbor Day Grant Program Committee, in conjunction with the NYSDEC, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 grants. There was significant competition this year, with 26 applications from across New York State submitted and 13 communities eventually selected to receive grants of $400-$1,000 to conduct a first-time community celebration of Arbor Day.

The Villages of Albion, Bainbridge, Freeville, Lima, and Liverpool; the Towns of East Bloomfield, Hastings, New Windsor, North Collins, and Plattsburgh; and the cities of Gloversville and Sherrill were selected to receive grants in support of new Arbor Day programs as presented and described in their applications. Congrats to these communities! 

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DEC Announces 2018 Annual Tree & Shrub Seedling Sale at Saratoga Tree Nursery


Plantings Support Pollinators and Improve Habitats for Wildlife

More than 50 species of trees and shrubs from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Saratoga Tree Nursery are now available to public and private landowners and schools, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced last month.

“Planting trees and shrubs not only enhances properties, it also provides positive environmental benefits that can be accomplished with minimal time and money and requires only basic skills,” Commissioner Seggos said. “New seedlings improve wildlife habitat and air and water quality in people’s backyards. And DEC foresters are always available to give you the best advice on what to plant.”

Spruces, pines, shrub willows, dogwoods, high bush cranberry, winged sumac, white cedar, and wetland rose are among the 50 species available from the State’s Saratoga Tree Nursery. The sale provides low-cost, native tree and shrub seedlings from New York seed sources to encourage landowners to enhance the state’s environment for future generations. Mixed species packets are also available. Enhancing habitat in your backyard is made easy with packets of trees and shrubs for your specific planting goals including enhancement of ruffed grouse habitat, Long Island habitat, and riparian and streamside habitat. In addition, packets include flowering species that attract pollinators. 

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Green-Wood Cemetery’s First EPF Grants in Action

Green-Wood by Sarah Evans
The Chapel nestled among trees at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo by Sara Evans

NYSDEC Urban and Community Forestry Grant Information Sessions in preparation for Round 14 of Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grants are coming up in April at four locations around the State. Funding for the urban forestry grants from a total available $2.3 million will be awarded for projects by successful applicants in large and small communities throughout the State. The application will be available on the NYS Grants Gateway later in Spring 2018. Grants will be for project categories including tree planting and maintenance; education programs; and tree inventories and community forest management plans.

As communities look to apply for Round 14 grants, it’s helpful to look back at successful applications from previous rounds. For instance, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn applied and received two Round 13 EPF grants: one under the category of tree planting or tree maintenance, and the other under the category of tree inventory or community forest management planning. Both were awarded at $75K, with the maintenance grant having a $25K match. These were the first EPF grants Green-Wood received.

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Getting to Know the DEC Urban Forestry Program’s Mary Martin


Mary Martin in the Adirondacks

As the volunteer coordinator for the NYSDEC Urban Forestry Program, I do a lot. My job duties vary throughout the year, ranging from planning ReLeaf workshops to creating theme and lesson plans for the 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest. Reviewing Tree City USA applications is one of my favorite parts of my job; it’s so much fun to see how different communities across the state get creative with how they celebrate Arbor Day.

Many of my favorite memories from growing up include being outdoors with my friends and family. Those memories, coupled with my fascination for rocks, led to me study Environmental Science at SUNY Albany. I was positive I was in the right field, but I was at a loss for what I wanted to do after college. I spent my winter breaks of junior and senior year in Ecuador with an organization called Global Student Embassy. We worked on reforestation and local sustainability projects—experiences that helped ignite a passion for working with communities and trees. 

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