Be One In a Million
Bring green to your neighborhood if you haven’t already. Are you in?
MillionTreesNYC is a program with a 10 year timeline to provide it’s urban ecosystem with one million new trees. The program was launched in the Fall of 2007 through the partnership of the New York Parks Department and New York Restoration Project. The city’s Parks Department will oversee the majority of new trees which are on streets and in parks; The Restoration Project will focus on efforts specifically within the community such as libraries, churches, cemeteries and housing projects, as well as manage tree giveaways. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the founder of the New York Restoration Project, Bette Midler planted the first tree in the Bronx on October 9, 2007.
To date, 796,732 trees have been planted across the five boroughs; if one million trees are planted by the programs goal in 2017, the overall urban forest will have increased by 20 percent. As part of PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg hopes to make the city more environmentally sustainable. Bloomberg said, ““These new trees aren’t going to be only in our parks. They’ll be planted along our sidewalks, on our streets in front of our public housing, in schoolyards and even in our own backyards. And the benefits we think will be felt far and wide.” What are the benefits? The mayor said that trees would not only enhance the city’s beauty, but also improve property values, save energy, reduce the number and severity of respiratory diseases and cool streets, yards and open spaces.
As part of the Million Tree Initiative, many cities have developed environmental programs to sustain and inform the community on a physical and social level. Other cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago and San Antonio have recently launched similar initiatives; and a recent study in Baltimore also indicated that a 10% increase in tree canopy led roughly to a 12% decrease in crime.
Across the globe, cities are also taking responsible action to promote sustainability and environmental awareness. Toronto mandated a law in May of 2009 which requires residential and industrial buildings to have green roofs. The Nature Conservancy is working in Brazil to plant one billion trees in the Atlantic Forest by 2015 to restore it’s struggling ecosystem. As an aside, in response to my own personal interests, you can appreciate trees of the world here, which are quite exotic in their own sense compared to New York’s state tree.
Through such action, support and awareness is immediately brought to the environment and people. MillionTrees NYC specifically, has an education program that provides resources for educators, kids and scouts within their communities. It is fundamental for younger generations to grow up in a society which is mindful of their effects on the environment. Morgan Monaco, direction of MillionTreesNYC said, “At the end of the day, our goal is to have New Yorkers form an emotional connection to trees.” In order to preserve our species we must first sustain and preserve the space in which we live.
In January of 2012, MillionTreesNYC reached its halfway point with a tree planting in St. Nicholas Park in Upper Manhattan. At this point, the campaign waa said to be about a year ahead of schedule. Of course there have been concerns regarding tree mortality and general maintenance. Various studies of these newly installed trees show that, depending on the location, 7 percent to 11 percent die within two years of planting. Although recent budget cuts have restricted the frequency of pruning and general maintenance, programs have been developed to provide education for tree maintenance and pruning certificates for individuals within the community. Another program gives priority to homeowners with trees in danger of damaging personal property or the sidewalks in front of homes, which used to be the residents responsibility.
At the beginning of this upcoming month, incumbent Michael Bloomberg will see his dream live on within the efforts of New York residents, workers and officials who oversee the planting, maintenance and care of these trees.