Basic Research: The State of the Forest in New York City

Updated 2007.11.13: Added direct links to all resolutions of the full report.

Thanks to a recent post on Save Ridgewood Reservoir, I learned of the existence of a comprehensive report on NYC's street trees. This technical report was created by the Center for Urban Forest Research and addressed to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe in April of this year. The report provides 72 pages of detailed, quantitative analysis of the state of NYC's urban forest.

Relative age distribution of all NYC street trees by borough
Relative age distribution of all NYC street trees by borough

A find like this is a source of pleasure indescribable to someone who's not already a tree-hugging geek such as myself. More important, it provides much-needed reference information for review and discussion of policy and planning, such as the Million Trees initiative, and DCP's recent Yards Text Amendment proposal.

The city conducted a street tree census, Trees Count, in 2005-2006. The more accessible 12-page report [PDF] from that effort summarizes the numbers, types, sizes and conditions of street trees throughout NYC and by each borough. Here are some highlights for Brooklyn:
  • Number of trees: 142,747
  • Number of trees in 1995-1996 census: 112,400
  • %Change over 10 years: 27%
  • Most common street tree: London Plane, Platanus × hispanica (23.6%)
  • The top five most common trees account for 58% of the street trees.
  • Of Brooklyn Community Boards, CB14 tied with CB7 as having the highest percentage of tree canopy coverage.
  • Of Brooklyn Community Boards, CB14 had the third smallest increase of street trees, only 10%, followed by CB16 at 7% and CB17 at 5%
  • 38% of Brooklyn's street trees have "infrastructure conflicts," such as tree lights, choking wires and grates, and close paving.
  • The annual economic benefit of Brooklyn's trees, considering property values, stormwater runoff, energy savings, air quality, and carbon sequestration, is $31,030,839.

Related posts

Center for Urban Forest Research
Preserving Livable Streets, November 7
Victorian Flatbush at risk from inappropriate zoning, October 23
Carolina Silverbell: One of a Million, October 9
State of Flatbush/Midwood, October 5
1M Trees in 10 Years, April 10
How Much is a Street Tree Worth, April 9
Landscape and Politics in Brooklyn's City Council District 40, February 14
NASA Maps NYC's Heat Island, August 1, 2006


The full report - New York City, New York Municipal Forest Resource Analysis - is available as a PDF/Acrobat document from Parks and CUFR in different resolutions: smaller, lower resolution for online viewing, or larger, higher resolution to download for offline viewing or printing.
  • Read it now from CUFR (1.4MB) or Parks (2.4MB)
  • Save it for later from CUFR (13MB)
Trees Count (Parks)
Trees & Greenstreets (Parks)
Million Trees NYC
Yards Text Amendment (DCP)
Center for Urban Forest Research (CUFR)


Rob Jett said...

You might want to check out Commish Benepe's presentation at Audubon tomorrow:


There will be a Q&A after.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting stuff.

Thank you for posting.

Vinayaraj V R said...

Great work. Keep up the good work. I have linked your blog to mine.