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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Green-Wood Cemetery Employs Drone to Assist with Oak Wilt Diagnosis

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A drone’s aerial perspective on a red oak (Quercus rubra), infected with oak wilt, in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.

NYSDEC recently launched its use of drones for things like monitoring coastal erosion on Lake Ontario, exploration of bat caves in Mineville, restoration of beach dunes on Fire Island, and monitoring Southern pine beetle in pine stands on Long Island. There are few known instances of drone use in the urban forests of New York; it’s thought that this is because people are worried about safety and are uncertain about the potentially prohibitive laws at work in populous areas.

However, the Council’s own Joseph Charap has begun using drones in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn with the help of his colleague, Vice President of Operations, Eric Barna. (Charap is Green-Wood’s Director of Horticulture and Curator.) Their first use of Barna’s Phantom 3 drone was to get aerial imagery of a veteran red oak (Quercus rubra) tree at Green-Wood that Charap suspected might be infected with oak wilt. 

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Joe Charap, and Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery as Urban Arboretum

Joe Charap

New NYSUFC Board Member Joseph Charap is the Director of Horticulture and Curator for Green-Wood in Brooklyn. He’s also a new dad—his son Benjamin was born on September 3rd. Charap and his Green-Wood colleagues are transforming the historic landscape of this cemetery into an urban arboretum/public garden and expanding the ways people utilize its many resources.

Joe Charap:

I am a native New Yorker and I grew up in Lower Manhattan. After earning a BA and an MA in English Literature, I began working in a schizophrenia research lab. In my limited free-time, I assisted a professional gardener working in residential gardens around the city. It was during this time that I really began to connect with trees and other plants.

Through this work and other projects, it became clear to me that horticulture was my calling, but that I needed to get professional training. After a chance meeting with New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) Vice President Francisca Coelho in 2013, I applied to and was accepted into NYBG’s School of Professional Horticulture. During my second year of the program, I held an internship at Green-Wood, and upon graduating, I was hired as Curator of Plant Collections. In January of 2017, I was made Director of Horticulture at Green-Wood.

Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 as one of the earliest “rural cemeteries.” It’s an accredited Level II Arboretum, occupying 478 acres in Brooklyn. We believe we will achieve Level III Accreditation within the next five years, as we continue to diversify our tree and shrub collection. [Level III arboreta have at least 500 species of woody plants, employ a collections curator, have substantial educational programming, collaborate with other arboreta, publicize their collections, and actively participate in tree science and conservation.] 

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