CB1 Calls for Greater Greenery as City Launches Enhanced Tree Map
Community Board 1 (CB1) is urging City administrators to embark on a reprise of the Bloomberg Era MillionTreesNYC Initiative, which planted one million new trees throughout the five boroughs, with an eye toward boosting the tally of saplings in Lower Manhattan.
Last month, the City’s Parks Department launched a revised and enhanced version of its online map of all trees in public spaces, which offers details about specific trees, as well as a comprehensive inventory of the benefits they offer.
In a resolution enacted at its November meeting, CB1 calls for “a second Million Trees Initiative that is more focused on street trees and maintenance over the reforesting of parklands.” The same measure notes that Lower Manhattan benefitted from the MillionTreesNYC Initiative, “with a Nature Conservancy study documenting the 2005 tree count and the 2015 tree count moving from 1,562 trees to 2,297 trees respectively.”
The Nature Conservancy study also indicates that the 2015 numbers reflect only half of CB1’s tree-hosting potential, and that a more ambitious program would improve the urban forest canopy of Lower Manhattan. One way this might be accomplished, CB1 notes, is by transforming the perimeters of the community’s many security zones (currently surrounded by stone barricades and metal bollards) with “a more human-friendly aesthetic that involves the use of planters and greenery.”
Shortly after CB1 enacted this resolution, the Parks Department launched a souped-up version of its New York City Tree Map. This interactive atlas documents a total of 1,756 trees in Lower Manhattan. (The divergence from the total compiled by the Nature Conservancy and cited by CB1 is explained by the use of slightly different borders to demarcate Lower Manhattan, as well as the City’s analysis excluding many hundreds of trees along Battery Park City’s esplanade and on Governors Island, both of which are overseen by agencies independent of the Parks Department.)
The enhanced version of the New York City Tree Map catalogs a litany of benefits from the local canopy, estimating that Downtown trees intercept 1.7 million gallons of storm water each year, while conserving 1.3 million kilowatt hours of energy usage, and removing more than one million tons of carbon dioxide (along with more than 2,300 pounds of other pollutants) from the air.
A local case in point will illustrate the accretive power of trees as part of Lower Manhattan’s streetscape. A single London planetree growing in front of the Museum of Jewish Heritage is estimated each year to absorb 2,668 gallons of stormwater, save 1,670 kilowatt hours of electricity, and sequester 2,104 tons of carbon dioxide, along with three pounds of other pollutants.