Not pulp fiction: 1 million trees

By Rita Wu

Under Million Trees NYC, the city has set out to plant and care for 1 million trees by 2017. That number would amount to a 20 percent increase throughout the five boroughs. So far, the city has already planted 174,189 new trees.

The plan was initiated by the Parks Department and the New York Restoration Project. But it is, in fact, a collective effort from city, state and federal agencies, private property owners, nonprofit and community-based groups, corporations and small businesses, developers, architects and landscape architects and all New Yorkers. The city will plant 60 percent of the trees in parks, on sidewalks and in public spaces, and the remaining 40 percent of the trees will come from private organizations, homeowners and community organizations.

Perks of having all these trees around are that it will help slow global climate change, and provide shade and protection from the summer sun. Trees lower the air temperature, which means less fossil fuel will be used for cooling and heating. Trees make a neighborhood more attractive and increase property values. They improve air quality by reducing pollutants, which, in turn, improves people’s health.

Specifically, in a program called Trees for Public Health, Parks is focusing on six neighborhoods that have the least amount of trees and a higher rate of asthma: Far Rockaway, East Harlem, Hunts Point, Stapleton, East New York and Morrisania.

There are numerous ways to get involved. One can volunteer by planting trees, leading educational training classes and workshops or going on tree-care outings. Other easy ways to help include making a cash contribution, suggesting a location where a tree should be planted or simply spreading the word about Million Trees NYC.

To plant a tree, one first needs to apply for a free tree-planting permit, obtainable through 311. The Partnership for Parks offers free workshops on how to take care of a new tree. Once the tree is planted, the next step is to notify the city, so it can be included in the count. For those who want a tree on their block but don’t want to do any of the messy work, the Parks Department will plant trees for free; one just needs to first fill out a form from the department’s Web site.

Go to www.milliontreesnyc.org to find out about upcoming events and how to get involved. For answers to questions, e-mail info@milliontreesnyc.org.