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.”
In “Can Hungry Goats Restore Urban Forests?” writer Jessica Leigh Hester describes how officials are using a herd of goats in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to browse invasive plants that took hold after Hurricane Sandy blew down trees, leaving open earth exposed to sunlight. The herd is on loan from Green Goats Farm in Rhinebeck, New York. Using goats for urban vegetation management hasn’t always turned out well, but this project seems to be on the right track.
In “What are Trees Worth to Cities?” Syracuse-based lead researcher David Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station talks about i-Tree, the tree software that he helped develop. He goes on to talk about the critical importance of assigning a dollar value to our urban forests and the many benefits they provide—then sharing that data with key decision makers. “Money drives decisions,” Nowak says.
In “Why Conserve Small Forest Fragments and Individual Trees in Urban Areas?” Dr. Mark Hostetler says, “For many developers and city planners, it takes time and money to plan around trees and small forest fragments. Often, the message from conservationists is that we want to avoid fragmentation and to conserve large forested areas. While this goal is important, the message tends to negate any thoughts by developers towards conserving individual mature trees and small forest fragments.” Hostetler goes on to discuss why forest fragments are important; he goes into depth about the role of forest fragments in the lives of migrating birds but also touches on the many other cumulative ecosystem benefits we know that urban trees/forest fragments provide, including carbon sequestration and shade.
In “Long-term Outcomes of Forest Restoration in an Urban Park,” NYC and USDA Forest Service Researchers compared restored and unrestored forest sites 20 years after initiating restoration. The sites are located within the Rodman’s Neck area of Pelham Bay Park, in the northeast corner of the Bronx in New York City. Some of the major implications for restoration practice that the researchers concluded from the findings of this study are that:
Urban forest restoration practices such as targeted removal of exotic invasive species and planting native tree species can increase species diversity and vegetation structure complexity. These effects can be seen two decades after restoration is initiated.
Targeted removal of exotic invasive plant species alone (i.e. without planting native trees) can increase numbers of exotic invasive shrubs and vines.
Urban forest restoration requires some level of continued maintenance to ensure success. Additional studies are needed to determine optimal levels (intensity and frequency) of intervention.
In “Online Tree Planting Program Software Applications” (pp 12-15) Plan-It Geo Founder Ian Hanou shows how two community forestry groups—Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri—used Cloud-based applications to accomplish their tree planting goals. He also provides an accessible primer on these tools.