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NYC streets have over 660,000 trees, parks department census finds

There are over 660,000 trees across New York City, a parks department census shows. Above, pedestrians walk along Argyle Road between Ditmas Avenue and Dorchester Road in Brooklyn on Thursday Nov. 3, 2016.
There are over 660,000 trees across New York City, a parks department census shows. Above, pedestrians walk along Argyle Road between Ditmas Avenue and Dorchester Road in Brooklyn on Thursday Nov. 3, 2016. Photo Credit: Anna Sergeeva

This gives a whole new meaning to urban jungle.

The city’s parks department released the results of its third Treescount census Thursday evening and found that there are 666,134 trees on streets throughout the city, a 12.5 percent jump from the 592,131 trees recorded in the last survey 10 years ago.

Officials and experts credit the increase to two principal sources: the MillionTreesNYC initiative, which planted 164,000 trees on streets between 2007 and 2015, and easier access to forestry requests through 311.

“I think people see them planted and say ‘I want them too,’” said Jennifer Greenfield, the parks department’s assistant commissioner for forestry, horticulture, and natural resources.

The MillionTreesNYC initiative, a brainchild of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, targeted neighborhoods such as East New York, the South Bronx and East Harlem that lacked a robust tree population on their streets.

Melissa Checker, the director of environmental studies at Queens College, cited the educational efforts of MillionTreesNYC and technological advancements as key elements in New Yorkers’ increased awareness that the city will consider tree-planting requests made through 311.

“For someone who has lived so long without trees on their block, when they see it coming in they really appreciate it,” she said.

The city has seen a large number of forestry requests. There were 85,214 requests in the 2015 fiscal year, nearly 7,500 more requests than in the 2014 fiscal year, according to city data.

The survey concluded there is potential for 260,000 trees throughout the five boroughs, especially in neighborhoods like Mill Basin, Queens Village and Astoria.

“There are still places that haven’t seen vibrant urban forests before,” Greenfield said.

Eric Goldstein, the NYC director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, predicted that the city would meet that goal.

“New Yorkers can oppose anything but very few fight having healthy, green trees planted on their streets,” he said.

Trees by borough and percentage of growth from the 2006 census:

Queens: 242,407 (1 percent growth since 2006)

Brooklyn: 173,070 (21 percent growth since 2006)

Staten Island: 103,313 (4 percent growth since 2006)

The Bronx: 82,821 (39 percent growth since 2006)

Manhattan: 64,523 (29 percent growth since 2006)

Largest trees, measured by trunk, according to the survey:

An 87-inch diameter pin oak on Douglaston Parkway and Barrows Court in Littleneck, Queens.

A 75-inch diameter London plane tree on Bryant Avenue in New Dorp, Staten Island.

A 61-inch diameter London plane tree on East 5th Street near Avenue N in Midwood, Brooklyn.

A 60-inch diameter English elm on West 163rd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights.

A 57-inch diameter black oak on the corner of Bussing Avenue and Edson Avenue in Wakefield, the Bronx.

Leafiest spots in NYC:

•Bronx: Murdock Avenue between Pitman Avenue and Nereid Avenue in Woodlawn

•Brooklyn: Argyle Road between Dorchester Road and Ditmas Ave in Flatbush

•Manhattan: West 69th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West in Lincoln Square

•Queens: Hillyer Street between 51st Avenue and Kneeland Avenue in Elmhurst

•Staten Island: Fremont Avenue between Kruser Street and North Railroad Avenue in New Dorp

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