NYC’s 25-Year Plan for its Urban Forests

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Joel Meyerowitz

A recent New York Times article by James Barron features an interview with Natural Areas Conservancy Executive Director Sarah Charlop-Powers and Senior Ecologist Helen Forgione about the story behind the new Forest Management Framework for New York City’s urban forest. Prospect Park Alliance President and Administrator Sue Donoghue is also featured. Climate change, invasive plants, forests at tipping points–and the mitigations for all these dilemmas that the Framework will power–are discussed.

About the Forest Management Framework for New York City

A joint project of the Natural Areas Conservancy and NYC Parks, the Forest Management Framework for New York City is a strategic and comprehensive plan to bolster and protect New York City’s vital urban forests. It is the first citywide vision for this critical piece of infrastructure. The plan is intended to guide restoration, management, and community engagement for 7,300 acres of New York City’s forested parkland. The 25- year plan includes the process, costs, steps, recommendations, best practices, and goals for forest management in NYC. It marks the culmination of six years of research, data collection, and analysis by NAC scientists. 

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The Rustic Symbolism of Victorian-Era Treestones

Intro and photos by Michelle Sutton

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What does it all mean?

The tree collections in cemeteries and memorial parks are key contributors to the beauty, diversity, and ecological services of the urban forest. Since I was a teenager, I’ve loved wandering cemeteries and memorial parks to appreciate the mature trees, beautiful open-grown specimens, and unusual species. In New York cemeteries I’ve seen glorious open-grown cucumber magnolia (Magnolia acuminata), Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus), and Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), to name a few.

Thanks to an article by Davey Resource Group Senior Consulting Urban Forester Jenny Gulick, I have another level of appreciation when I explore cemeteries and memorial parks—now I look for treestones and am thrilled when I find them. It’s like a reverential treasure hunt, as the “treasures” can tell such profound stories. In New York, I often will find one treestone in a cemetery—two or three if I am lucky.  Here are some highlights from Gulick’s fascinating piece on the history of treestones and how their symbolism can be interpreted. 

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2018 Urban Forestry Awards Celebration Warms Hearts in March

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Eight years ago, Council Board Member Lori Brockelbank (second from left) helped Jamestown Community College become the first community college in NYS to be a Tree Campus USA. And once again, Lori brought students with her to celebrate the College’s ongoing Tree Campus USA status: Avery Sirwatka (standing next to Lori), Calob Franklin, Layla Crabtree, and Tiffany Donaldson. They are joined by NYSDEC Urban Forestry Program Manager Mary Kramarchyk (far left) and NYSDEC Urban Forestry Partnerships Coordinator Sally Kellogg (second from right).

Congratulations to New York’s Tree City/Line/Campuses! On March 29, NYSDEC celebrated the commitment of 128 NYS Tree Cities, 8 Tree Lines, and 28 Tree Campuses for their commitment to our collective urban and community forest. To learn more about becoming a Tree City USA, Tree Line USA, or Tree Campus USA, see the Arbor Day Foundation website

Thank you to NYSDEC Urban Forestry Partnerships Coordinator Sally Kellogg for her help with this pictorial of highlights from the 2018 event. 

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The Story of New York Heartwoods, with Co-founder Megan Offner

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Black walnut table from a salvaged urban tree in Warwick. All photos from New York Heartwoods

New York Heartwoods (NYH), located in Kingston, was founded in 2011 out of Megan Offner’s love of forests, passion for quality craftsmanship, and desire to create environmental and economic solutions in her community. She says, “We make sustainable furniture—sustainable in that our pieces are made to last, are efficient in their use of materials, and are made with wood from fallen and urban trees that would otherwise be landfilled, chipped, or burned.”

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2018 Omnibus Bill Contains Good News for our Urban Forests

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Calls, emails, letters, and in-person visits to federal legislators by advocates for Urban and Community Forestry have paid off! You’ll recall President Trump’s proposed FY 18 Budget zeroed out funding for UCF. Citizens and UCF advocacy groups sprung into action to educate our representatives in Congress about the myriad quantifiable benefits of the urban forest, and Congress responded.

The 2018 omnibus appropriations package passed by Congress and signed by the President on March 23, 2018 reinstates funding for USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry programs, including $28.5 million for Urban and Community Forestry. This is is actually $500,000 more than was funded in 2017, although not the $31 million requested by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) for FY 2018.

Now it’s time we roll up our sleeves and advocate for our urban forests once again, as the President’s FY 19 Budget proposal once again zeroes out funding for UCF. Thank you to all of you who made your voice heard on behalf of our nation’s urban forests. It’s a muscle we must continue to exercise.

For further reading, see the press statements from NASF, from the National Association of Conservation Districts, and Society of American Foresters — more to come.

Special thank you to Region 2 NY ReLeaf folks who took leadership on strategic legislative visits and to Danielle Watson at the Society of American Foresters for her regular briefings on the budget process.

 

 

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

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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.

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

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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