Young people shone extra bright at the 2019 ReLeaf Conference, injecting energy and enthusiasm into the gathering.
Thank you, NYSDEC staff and Region 3 ReLeaf volunteers, for your hard work putting together a superb ReLeaf Conference.
In March 2019, the Natural Areas Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, and Yale School for Forestry and Environmental Studies released “Untapped Common Ground: The Care of Forested Natural Areas in American Cities.” This report is based on a survey of 125 organizations in 110 cities and how they manage their forests.
There’s a lot more nature in cities than people think! Urban natural areas represent 1.7 million acres but often don’t receive the investment, recognition, or care they deserve.
Urban forested natural areas can be a tool to achieve cities’ resiliency, climate change, and public health goals. More Americans are moving into cities, and for many, these places represent their best access to nature. The time to invest in urban nature is now.
The Natural Areas Conservancy and its partners will convene representatives from a select number of cities from across the country for workshops in fall 2019. Next year, they’ll publish case studies on how cities manage their forest natural areas. Check this page for updates on the project.
What are Urban Forested Natural Areas?
The term “urban forest” refers to all trees within a city including street trees, landscaped trees, private property, and forested natural areas. Forested natural areas are distinct from street and park trees in their size, biodiversity, and how they’re managed. They are important native habitats, and are the “woods” in cities.
Michael J. (Mike) DeMarco is a City of Watertown Planner through the Office of Planning & Community Development. Mike is also a Council Board Member, an ISA Certified Arborist, and a 2017 Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) graduate. These stunning winter scenes from his Instagram page prompted us to ask him about Watertown’s Washington Street Arboretum, soon to be renamed the Downtown Arboretum.
The pictures were taken in front of the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, along Washington Street within the City’s Downtown Arboretum. In the foreground of these two night-time photos are ‘Glenleven’ littleleaf lindens (Tilia cordata), a sugar maple (Acer saccharum), a ‘Summit’ green ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica), a ‘Red Sunset’ red maple (A. rubrum ‘Red Sunset’) and a saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana). In the background of the pics are some of the more unique and historic trees found within the arboretum (read on!)
Through a $75,000 Urban Forestry Grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Prospect Park Alliance recently surveyed roughly 12,000 of the park’s 30,000 trees as part of its work in caring for the Park’s natural areas.
The survey not only provides a more nuanced picture of the park’s evolving ecosystem, but important insights into the economic, environmental and health benefits of Brooklyn’s Backyard. Conducted by Davey Resource Group (DRG), a well-respected urban forestry consultancy that has worked extensively in New York City, you can examine the results on the Prospect Park TreeKeeper Interactive Map.
“The survey has provided exciting insight into what we already knew were some of the park’s most important treasures, its trees,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue. “We are all aware of how special this urban green space is, but now with this data we can quantify the economic benefit our community receives from these trees. It clearly reinforces just how precious this resource is, and how we must all do our part to care for it.”
Arboreta are a unique component of the urban forest, a place where we can see the breadth of beautiful trees and shrubs suited to our climate. They also make excellent outdoor environmental education labs.
For the 7th year, NYSUFC organizational member The Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands (a suburb of Albany), is providing an opportunity for area students to connect with nature in a meaningful way. The goals of the program are to increase overall environmental literacy and stewardship, to foster an appreciation for biodiversity, and to provide a venue for collaboration across socioeconomic and cultural barriers serving as a step towards community connectivity in the Capital District.
“We need people all over NY and in other states to plant pure wild American chestnuts so they have ‘mother trees’ to cross with our blight-resistant tree, when it is approved for release, hopefully in the next few years,” says Allen Nichols, president of the NY Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF). This is a continuation of 28-plus years that TACF-NY has been supporting the chestnut restoration work at SUNY ESF.
“I have American chestnut nuts that are starting to sprout,” he says. I send these nuts out free of charge to people that are interested in starting some mother trees, so they have a tree to cross with our blight resistant tree, when it is available.”
Nichols asks that folks read this post and the previous post about chestnut restoration, this document about mother trees and this one about planting your chestnut seeds, and then let him know how many nuts you want to plant! firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-263-5105
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.
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.
Last month, NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh came and spoke with the Council Board at their meeting at the NYSDEC Region 2 office on Long Island. Commissioner Kavanagh discussed three national, big-picture urban forestry projects with the Board: the Ten-Year Urban Forestry Action Plan, a report on the Impact of Urban and Community Forestry Federal Grants, and the Urban Forestry Toolkit. Let’s look at each one.
1) The Ten-Year Urban Forestry Action Plan (2016-2026) was developed by and for the urban forestry community. It was funded by the US Forest Service and developed by the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC)* with extensive input from stakeholders. You can read an interesting interview with Liam Kavanagh about the Plan here.
The Plan’s purpose is to expand awareness of the benefits that our urban forests, including green infrastructure, provide to communities throughout the nation, and increase investments in these urban forest resources for the benefit of current and future generations.