Eighteen Groups Testify for Greater Investment in Urban Forests at Council Parks Committee Hearing

New York City’s forests, one of the city’s most valuable environmental assets, help mitigate climate change, provide clean air, and contribute to the well-being of residents.

NYLCV’s NYC Program Director Adriana Espinoza recently testified at the City Council Parks Committee in support of investments to protect the hard-working trees that do so much to make NYC a healthier place. Espinoza testified in favor of protecting the city’s forests and voiced support for the Forest Management Framework for New York City, a $385 million investment over 25 years for the ongoing restoration and conservation of the City’s natural forests. Read the full testimony here.

More than 40 individuals attended the hearing, which was chaired by City Council Parks Committee Chair Barry Grodenchik, and 18 agencies, organizations and individuals testified.

Trees mitigate climate change, provide clean air, and contribute to the well-being of residents. In total, NYC’s trees remove 1,300 tons of pollutants from the atmosphere each year. Trees are vital for mitigating urban heat island effects and can lower air temperatures by up to nine degrees Fahrenheit, cut air conditioning use by 30%, and reduce heating energy use by a further 20-50%. A single mature tree can absorb 150 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year and filter some of the harmful airborne pollutants. Each year, NYC’s forest canopy captures 1.97 billion gallons of stormwater runoff and stores 1.2 million tons of carbon per year.

The City’s natural forests are currently in a mostly healthy condition but face future threats that will undermine their health and biodiversity. Between 1984 and 2002 alone, New York City lost 9,000 acres of green open space to competing land uses. Forests are also under threat as a result of inadequate funding, lack of proper management, illegal dumping, and invasive species.  

In order to combat these threats, we urge the City to implement the Forest Management Framework, which was created by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Natural Areas Conservancy. It includes a comprehensive evaluation of the City’s 7,300 acres of natural forests and seeks to combat threats to urban forests with a $385 million investment over the next 25 years. The cost estimate is based on financial modeling from the Million Trees NYC campaign and other New York City tree planting and forest management efforts.

NYLCV called on the City to implement the Forest Management Framework in order to keep the urban forests in good repair. The League also called for the Framework to be adopted as part of the City’s OneNYC plan, as its benefits contribute to the plan’s existing goals of sustainability, resiliency, and equity. Conservation and restoration of the City’s natural areas is a key part of the League’s 2018 New York City Policy Agenda.

The Natural Areas Conservancy, New Yorkers for Parks, and other organizations also spoke in favor of increased investment in forest management.