New York City has planted 1 million trees within an eight-year time frame in a public-private partnership, bringing the city’s tree count to 5.2 million, according to the Parks Department.
In 2007, the city launched PlaNYC, a strategy to maintain the city’s quality of life as its population expands. The plan codified the MillionTreesNYC initiative, a partnership between the city and the New York Restoration Project, a private nonprofit. Together, the organizations planted 1 million trees in the city within eight years — two years ahead of schedule.
“Each of these trees is a symbol of our city’s efforts to build a more resilient and equitable city for New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “This one millionth tree planting highlights what New Yorkers can do when we work together for the greater good of our city.”
While the Parks Department planted approximately 750,000 trees in city parks and on the streets, the NYRP brought 250,000 trees into private and public properties that were outside of the Park Department’s jurisdiction.
The one-millionth tree, a lace bark elm, will be planted at Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx Wednesday. Underserved communities were specifically targeted by both organizations through an analysis that showed where the city had poor canopy cover and what neighborhoods would not be able to afford planting trees on their own.
“Access to nature, open spaces and connection to green things improves quality of life in ways that we are only beginning to understand,” said Deborah Marton the executive director of NYRP. “Things like life span, the health of the cells in your body, brain development, birthrate — all of those things are now being linked by science to access to nature and trees.”
In 2006, the U.S. Forest Service determined that NYC had 24% canopy cover; scientists generally recommend that an urban setting should have at least 30%.