Parks and other green spaces are one of the city’s most valuable environmental assets. They connect residents with the outdoors, help mitigate climate change, and provide clean air. Parks also provide habitats for wildlife, and contribute to the well-being of New Yorkers.
That’s why preserving these spaces is one of NYLCV’s top priorities.
Parks are a major source of the city’s urban tree canopy. That canopy mitigates climate change and provides clean air by storing carbon and removing tons of pollutants from the atmosphere.
Trees are vital for mitigating the urban heat island effect and can lower air temperatures by up to nine degrees, cut air conditioning use by 30%, and reduce heating energy use by a further 20-50%.
The city’s parks also contribute to water quality and resiliency by capturing almost 2 billion gallons of stormwater runoff.
Unfortunately, despite making up 14% of our land area the NYC Parks Department receives less than 1% of the total City budget, leaving our green spaces under threat.
Inadequate funding for proper maintenance has also lead to a rise of invasive species in parks. Just over a year ago, invasive beetles were found in Prospect Park that cut off the supply of water and essential nutrients to trees.
That’s why NYLCV joined New Yorkers for Parks and DC 37 as founding members of the Play Fair for Parks Coalition. Play Fair is a multi-year advocacy campaign for parks and this year, we are calling for increasing the NYC Parks Department expense budget by $100 million next year in order to better maintain parks citywide. That funding should be used to hire more maintenance workers and resources to keep parks, gardens, and street trees healthy, as well as for programming at parks and playgrounds.
Late last month, we rallied on the Steps of City Hall to launch the campaign. Earlier this month, our President Julie Tighe testified at a City Council Parks Committee’s Preliminary budget Hearing and advocated for this $100 million investment.
Leveling the playing field with this investment would make New York City more sustainable, improve resiliency, and conserve nature.
This investment could ensure that the City’s natural forests will begin to receive the proactive care they need to remain healthy and resilient in our changing climate.
Maintenance workers would have the resources they need to protect our trees from invasive species and maintain the trees we need to absorb carbon and air pollution.
It would go a long way towards fulfilling the goals of the 25-year Forest Management Framework for the restoration and conservation of the City’s hard-working natural forests, for which NYLCV has been advocating.
It would also bring improvements in programming for children and help beautify parks.
You can support this campaign by taking action here.
NYLCV will continue to advocate for investments in green spaces and other public lands throughout New York City.