October 2nd, 2008, 9:43 am
MillionTreesNYC was launched last year by the Parks Department and New York Restoration Project as a PlaNYC initiative. This citywide, public-private program has an ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s five boroughs over the next decade. By planting one million trees, New York City can increase its urban forest by 20%, offering considerable environmental benefits to New Yorkers. The City of New York plans to plant 60% of these trees in parks and other public spaces. The remaining 40% will come from private organizations, homeowners, and community organizations. MAS is one of many non-profit groups that have agreed to help achieve this lofty goal. MAS became involved because of our concern that the average street tree has a ten-year life cycle, and we believe it is as important to keep the million trees alive, as it is to plant them. So we are encouraged by the news that the MillionTreesNYC is seriously addressing the maintenance issue and has already put in place tree stewards at all New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) projects, where a large number of the new trees have been planted. These stewards are committed to watching over the newly planted trees for two years. The Parks Department has also devised a superior tree pit that can hold on to the moisture that the tree roots require. Each young sapling needs 15-20 gallons of water once a week between May and October. Watering is the most important thing you can do for a tree, and it may also be the most difficult task to accomplish as transporting water from source to tree can often be a challenge. In Paris, where trees grow to full maturity, each individual tree is automatically watered by water pumps that are planted next to the tree. These pumps are activated by the water that is turned on and flushes Parisian gutters every morning. In New York City, we do not have access to these automatic systems and must rely on our good samaritans to keep young our trees alive. You can help by asking your building maintenance staff to water trees while they are hosing off sidewalks, or ask street vendors and merchants to dump water from their containers into nearby tree pits at the end of the day. MAS is proud to be part of this very successful effort. In its first year, the partnership planted 98,000 trees, and is well on its way to meeting the goal of planting 100,00 trees each year for the next ten years. The writer is Director of Special Projects at MAS.