Drones in the Urban Forest, Part 1: NYSDEC’s Drone Program Takes Off

NYSDEC is now using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones) for a variety of monitoring purposes around the State. This terrific video, followed by the official NYSDEC press release, shows you the projects undertaken thus far. The ones that will perhaps interest the NYS urban forestry community most are related to Southern Pine Beetle and Phragmites–but all the projects are fascinating. In the next post, we explore the potential uses for urban forestry.

DEC’s Drone Program Takes Off

Fleet of 22 Drones and Professional Operators Undertake Critical Search and Rescue, Forest Fires, Wildlife Management and Forest Health Missions

DEC Drones Dispatched to Assist in Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Texas and Puerto Rico

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that the agency has deployed a fleet of 22 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or “drones,” across the state to enhance the state’s environmental management, conservation and emergency response efforts. 

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NYU Students Tend Street Trees through NYC Parks Stewardship Program

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by Nichole Henderson-Roy, Senior Stewardship Manager, Forestry, Horticulture & Natural Resources, NYC Parks

On August 29th and 30th, 2017, the NYC Parks Stewardship program welcomed the first-year class of the NYU College of Arts and Sciences to New York in a truly grand style. Over two days, 1,435 students and 60 staff members cared for 1,570 trees!

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Meet the NYC Natural Areas Conservancy 2017 Summer Field Interns

NAC summer interns 2017

NYC’s Natural Areas Conservancy welcomed nine summer field interns from the City University of New York (CUNY). Over the course of eight weeks, the CUNY teams are studying NYC’s ecological health in 12 parks in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.

Led by Conservancy ecologists, the students are collecting data on plants and soil to help direct improvement of natural areas citywide. You can watch their progress and learn more about their findings by following The Natural Areas Conservancy on social media. The Conservancy thanks the Leon Levy Foundation, Lise Strickler, and Mark Gallogly for supporting this program.

Meet the interns:  

Photo taken at Marine Park, Brooklyn

Front row: Irina Arias (environmental engineering); Uziel Crescenzi (landscape architecture); Kenia Pittman (landscape architecture); Brian Stonaker (biology); Merna Youssef (physics and mathematics); Stephanie Cando (biology).

Back row: Renee Montelbano (urban sustainability); Rafael Arias (environmental engineering); Harmanveer Singh (environmental science and urban studies).

NYC Green Infrastructure Tour at ReLeaf

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Maria Corporan is Gardener/Supervisor for NYC DEP Queens green infrastructure maintenance crews. She discussed the success of different plant species for NYC rain gardens, experimentation with new plants, and how maintenance needs change through the seasons. Photo by Dan Lambe

New York City’s Green Infrastructure Program is a multi-agency effort led by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DEP and agency partners like NYC Parks design, construct, and maintain a variety of sustainable green infrastructure features such as green roofs and rain gardens on City-owned property such as streets, sidewalks, schools, and public housing. You can see a video about NYC green infrastructure here.

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Sponsorship of Municipal Forestry Programs & Events

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Rock climbing at Surrey’s Party for the Planet, a daylong celebration made possible by cultivating sponsorships.

For three years, the Council has been administering Arbor Day grants that provide funding to communities who wanted to have their first-ever Arbor Day celebrations and begin to build their urban forestry programs. These grants have benefited 37 New York communities whose inaugural Arbor Day celebrations you can read about here on the blog.

What about those municipalities or non-profits that have established programs and want to kick things up a notch (or many notches)? Here, colleagues to the Northwest advise on how to make sponsorship of programs and events a reality. With its current population of 472,000, Surrey, BC would rank as the 37th largest city in the U.S. Their successes as a large city with sponsorship came via strategies that are translatable to smaller communities. First, have a look at how Surrey, BC put this into practice with their annual Party for the Planet, a day-long celebration for their equivalent of Arbor Day in the U.S. 

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New Urban Forest Carbon Registry Will Create Revenue for City Trees

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Story and images by Mark McPherson, Executive Director of the Urban Forest Carbon Registry

The urban forests of the U.S. are long overdue to earn certified carbon credits. Carbon buyers purchased $700 million in carbon credits in the U.S. over the last decade ($4.5 billion worldwide). Yet not a single dollar of that money can go to the trees in the cities and towns of America.

Everyone in urban forestry knows the documented benefits of ecosystem services provided by trees in cities, yet urban forests receive relatively little funding as municipalities struggle to meet basic utility and human service needs. Furthermore, urban tree canopy is being lost in many cities due to growth and development.

The Urban Forest Carbon Registry (the Registry) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is working to make it possible for urban tree planting and preservation projects to earn and sell carbon credits. Money from the sale of the credits would go directly to the projects that earned those credits.

The Registry has developed practical carbon protocols for urban forestry projects. These protocols, one for tree planting and one for tree preservation, will be the “rulebooks” that projects must follow to earn certified credits.

The Registry assembled a drafting group of national stakeholders from many areas of urban forestry including Greg McPherson, Scott Maco, and Andy Trotter to address the quantification issues—as well as representatives of municipal forestry, non-profit tree organizations, utilities, transportation professionals, and watershed experts. You can view the protocols on the Registry website at www.ufregistry.org.

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Another Successful Save the Rain Tree Planting Event

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Volunteers gathering for the fall, 2016 Save the Rain tree planting event. Photos Courtesy Save the Rain

Save the Rain is Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s comprehensive program to improve the environment and clean Onondaga Lake by reducing the stormwater runoff that enters the sewer system. There is a combined sewer system in Syracuse, and during heavy rainfalls the system overflows into the tributaries of Onondaga Lake. Save the Rain utilizes innovative green and gray infrastructure to capture stormwater, preventing combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and improving water quality. The Save the Rain Tree Planting Program has planted over 6,300 trees that, among other ecological services, can soak up stormwater runoff.

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The Phenomenal, Interactive New York City Street Tree Map

NYC street tree map

 

Using data from the TreesCount! 2015 inventory, NYC Parks brings us the interactive New York City Street Tree Map, the world’s most extensive, accurate, and detailed tree map. With the Map, anyone can access data about any street tree in the City.

Users can learn about the inventory as a whole, including its quantifiable ecological benefits and predominant species, they can mark trees as favorites and share them with friends, and they can record their tree stewardship activities. They can find out ecological benefits of each individual tree; for instance, the Japanese pagoda tree at 213 E 73rd Street, provides the following benefits.

NYC pagoda tree benefits

 

CityLab, from The Atlantic, published a nice article about the project. Author Laura Bliss reports that “For more than a year, some 2,300 volunteers helped park officials survey more than 685,000 street trees across all five boroughs, gathering stats on species, bark health, trunk width, latitude and longitude, and—this was new—GPS coordinates for every one.”

The interactive New York City Street Tree Map that was created from that data is a marvel. It will surely inspire more of its kind.

 

Top Seven Blog Posts of 2016

Our Council’s blog was viewed more than 19,500 times in 2016! Here are the year’s seven most-viewed posts.

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Blight-resistant chestnut seedlings. Photo by Allen Nichols

Over a thousand people read Participate in the Reintroduction of the American Chestnut … by Simply Planting a Few Nuts. “Now comes the part of getting the blight-resistant trees into the forest. That is where you come in! We need people all over NY and in other states to plant pure wild American chestnuts so they have trees to cross with our blight-resistant tree, when it is approved for release, hopefully in the next few years.” -Allen Nichols, President of the American Chestnut Foundation, New York Chapter

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B&B trees in transport. Photo by Matt Stephens

Some blog posts resonate long past their original publication date date. Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards” was one of the top five posts in 2015 and was the second most viewed post in 2016. Former NYC Director of Street Tree Planting Matt Stephens and Taking Root Editor Michelle Sutton  coauthored this story questioning commonly held beliefs about “fall hazards,” mostly as it applies to B&B trees, but they also discuss the interaction of the fall season with other production methods, like bare root. Nina Bassuk helped craft the section called “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” which should be of interest to anyone planting trees.

Kristy King in India
Kristy King in India

Kristy King and NYC Forest Restoration: Dreaming Big for the City’s Natural Areas Many readers wanted to learn about the work of the NYC Natural Resources Group, which manages 5,000 acres of forested natural areas across the five boroughs of NYC, and about Director of Forest Restoration Kristy King. Her dream for NYC: “… that all forested areas are dominated by native species and that invasive species have been managed to the point that natural forest regeneration is occurring and that the public holistically values the natural resources in their area.”

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Jennifer Kotary at her SUNY ESF Ranger School graduation.

NYSDEC Urban Forestry Intern Jennifer Kotary: Get to Know Her!  Many blog readers were keen to know about this dynamic up-and-comer. “My internship research involved in-depth exploration of what communities are doing to protect and build green infrastructure across the state. Via Mary’s [Kramarchyk] assigned projects, I was able to produce tangible evidence that there is quite the statewide collective will to plant and nurture an expanding canopy as well as many career and volunteer opportunities to do so.”

Rochester UFMP

From Scottsville to Long Beach: Urban Forest Master Plans, Management Plans, and Reports introduced blog readers to the growing compendium of Urban Forest plans and reports on the Council’s website. Communities creating or re-envisioning their master plans can survey what’s already been done in New York and use these plans as templates. NYS EPF (aka Cost-Share) Urban Forestry Grant funds are available for management plans or master plans, provided these plans include a specific work schedule made up of goals, tasks, and a timeline. Go to link above > Browse > DEC > 2016 Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program (Round 13)- Tree Planting or Tree Maintenance Projects.

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Zelkova ‘Musashino’ Courtesy J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

SMA’s 2016 Urban Tree of the Year: Musashino Zelkova generated a lot of buzz. ‘Musashino’ has been a successful and popular street tree for many more years in Japan, proving itself useful as a narrow, upright form of zelkova. It can tolerate drought and heat and is pH adaptable and pollution tolerant. See a list of all the past SMA Urban Trees of the Year here.

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Gary Raffel: Get to Know Him! Gary has served the Council in a variety of capacities, including as a board member. “I started Dynamic Tree Systems in 2002, offering general tree care service as well as Plant Health Care and Integrated Pest Management programs. I later wanted to find a niche in the industry and purchased a Tree Radar Unit at a time when there were only three of us in the U.S. and eleven people in the world using the equipment. A few years later I became the company’s international trainer, such that when a new unit was sold I would fly to the particular client and spend a week training them on their new equipment (I still do that, in addition to Dynamic Tree Systems).”