Report on Forested Natural Areas in American Cities

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.

Read the full report.

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.

What’s Next?

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.

 

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).

Bronx River Alliance & Partners to Restore Bronx River Forest

Bronx river restoration
The beautiful 23-mile Bronx River. Photo Courtesy Natural Areas Conservancy

This story comes to us from Bronx River Alliance Deputy Director Maggie Greenfield and Natural Areas Conservancy Communications and Public Outreach Manager Nicole Brownstein. 

The Bronx River has seen its fair share of history. It was first called the Aquehung, or “River of High Bluffs” by the local Native Americans. Two tribes, the Weckquaesgeek and Siwanoy, drank the river’s water, fished along its banks, and hunted in the surrounding woods. The river also held a spiritual significance for them and was a place for ritual baths each year. Jonas Bronck arrived in 1639, brokered a deal with the Native Americans for 500 acres along the river, and turned it into farmland.

Mills sprang up along the river, harnessing its energy and using it as a natural flowing sewer system. As the manufacturing industry fell into decline and the mills began to disappear, the river remained a dumping site for the surrounding communities. This was before we fully knew or cared about the effects of industrial and residential waste dumping.

It wasn’t until the environmental movement picked up in the mid-1970s that the restoration process began along the 23-mile river. In the late 1990s, the Bronx River Working Group was founded, with more than 60 community organizations and businesses combining efforts to orchestrate work along the river. The spirit of this effort led to the creation of the Bronx River Alliance, a group dedicated to restoring the waterway. When they began their work, these activists found objects as bizarre as refrigerators, tires, and even a wine press in the river. Today the river’s health is returning, evidenced by the long-awaited appearance of river herring, American eel, eastern oyster, and beavers. But our work is not yet done.

Read more…