Depending on local decisions and audiences, Green Maps are often printed on paper. Of course, this impacts trees, and leads to the question, how can we give back?
As described in our Spring 2019 post, our street tree and stewardship campaign was started on Valentine’s Day, with love for nature in our home community, the Lower East Side of New York City. The Lower East Side, which has 165,000 residents and a real shortage of parks, street trees and greenery. According to the City's terrific map of street trees, tree-map.nycgovparks.org, our community board district, CB3, which includes the LES, Chinatown and East Village - has just 5,000 Street Trees.
Trees are so beneficial! We all appreciate the leafy shade and singing birds plus these 5,000 provide us with $600,000 in energy conservation, CO2 reduction, storm water capture and pollutant removal, all of which help mitigate climate change and protect our health. That's $120 per tree per year. Given that the looming controversial East Side Coastal Resilience plan would remove 45 acres of green space and 1000 trees, build a seawall and elevate a riverside park 8 feet (3 meters) Wendy's campaign is focused on this simple statement: let's get moving now on planting more street trees and reinvigorating tree stewardship.
Tree Stewardship fits the Circular Economy model: design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, regenerate natural systems. Trees:
- absorb pollution including CO2; conserve energy
- can live decades; and their leaves, fruit, all materials break down into rich soil
- regenerative aspects include stormwater capture, beautiful habitat and shade
On Valentine's Day, our director made a short statement and her draft Resolution was accepted and adapted by CB3 on February 26, 2019! Download the LES Community Tree Canopy Resolution at bit.ly/CB3trees19.
Now, one year later, there is progress to report, right here at bit.ly/LEStrees19!
March 2019 - 1,000 Street Trees promised by Parks for CB3!
September 2019 - the first two LES Community Canopy (both Native) Trees were planted!
October 2019 - Street Tree Task Force is convened for CB3 and CB6, as now the 1,000 trees were to be spread across the two districts.
November 2019 - ReNature.NYC formed in partnership with groups across the 5 boroughs (Covid paused)
February 2020 - Tree walks and task force meeting planned by NYC Parks, along with a Progress Report for CB3
February 2020 - An ‘Instructable’ for replicating the effort in your community was posted on Public Lab. Add your thoughts there!
March-April 2020 - COVID-19 disrupts planting and tree care workshops, but daily short walks are good for cateloguing empty tree pits.
NYC has planted over 300 trees since fall 2019. Originally they said all are from earlier requests, as it takes time for LES Canopy Trees contracts to be signed, later these were counted in the 1,000 for the canopy.
2020 - The importance of clean air saving lives during the pandemic underscores the value of street trees, as seen in this NY Times article. The Nature Conservancy is also working on the future forest, and books like The Overstory and the Hidden Life of Trees are gaining new audiences.
July 2021 - Now over 500 of the 1,000 saplings have been planted, but sadly, East River Park has lost some trees! Now that there are air quality sensors collecting baseline data in the park, trees' cooling power, happiness generating power, and inequitable distribution are getting more attention. NYC's stewardship program has resumed, as has Lower East Side Ecology Center's. It's a great time to support your local trees by giving them water, keeping their bed clean and freshening the soil with compost occasionally.
End of 2021 - the City's dreadful plan was put into place with a sudden deforestation of 20 acres and over 500 mature trees, working at night and over a weekend, as described in numerous articles. Follow EastRiverParkAction.org and efforts to make the ESCR plan less impactful on climate and public health. It will take years - really decades - for the newly planted trees to absorb the pollutants, stormwater and heat as the mature trees we lost. Let's help the young ones thrive, reduce our own impacts and protect our precious mature trees.