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Parks & Public Spaces

Resolution in Support of the Borough Presidents’ Million More Trees Initiative and Increasing Community Resiliency and Quality of Life through New York City Urban Forest Canopy Protection, Maintenance and Expansion.

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, December 08, 2022, the following resolution passed with a vote of 26 in favor; 0 opposed; 2 abstaining:

WHEREAS, New York City’s five Borough Presidents are calling on Mayor Eric Adams for the city to plant a million new trees by 2030; and

WHEREAS, New York City currently has roughly seven million trees, or fewer than one tree for each of its 8.8 million residents, according to a recent Nature Conservancy report; and

WHEREAS, the “urban forest” refers to these seven million trees and the physical and social infrastructure on which they depend, while the “urban forest canopy” refers to the area of the tree leaves, branches, and stems when viewed from above; and

WHEREAS, The urban forest is found on both public and private lands, including parks, streets, NYCHA campuses, schools, businesses, institutions, and private residences with approximately 28% in city parks, 25% in the public right-of-way, and 47% on other property types citywide; and

WHEREAS, The urban forest canopy cover of New York City is approximately 22% and of Manhattan is 21.4%; and

WHEREAS, The urban forest canopy cover within Community Board Five of 4% (40 acres) severely trails the cover for New York City and Manhattan as a whole; and

WHEREAS, There are currently approximately 2,100 street trees within Community Board Five, representing just 3.3% of those in Manhattan and 0.3% of all street trees citywide; and 

WHEREAS, The urban forest serves as critical natural infrastructure and provides myriad of social, environmental, and economic and public health benefits, including but not limited to cooling, shading, energy efficiency, cleaner air, stormwater absorption and filtration, increased property values, enhanced mental and physical health, and improved business activity (See Chapter 3, State of the Urban Forest in NYC); and

WHEREAS, Extreme heat and flooding are a threat to the health, wellbeing, and economy of our communities and the New York Panel on Climate Change predicts up to 3-5 times the number of extreme heat days and 1.5 times the amount of precipitation by the 2080s; and

WHEREAS, The urban forest canopy is disproportionately distributed throughout the City and communities of color and low-income communities tend to have significantly less canopy while often being more vulnerable to heat and other health risks and African Americans in the city are twice as likely to die from heat exposure as white New Yorkers, according to the city’s health department; and

WHEREAS, There is significant opportunity to expand the urban forest in New York City and to plant at least a million more trees across public and private land, and realizing this opportunity requires the whole city and all Community Districts; and

WHEREAS, Urban forest canopy expansion requires protecting existing trees, planting more trees, and maintaining all trees, and

WHEREAS, Each year trees in New York City remove 1,100 tons of air pollution valued at $78 million, reduces annual residential energy costs by $17.1 million per year, reduces annual stormwater runoff by 69 million cubic feet and removes about 51,000 tons of carbon annually, and

WHEREAS, This initiative is expected to cost approximately $500 million, and can partially be funded through an increase of the Parks Department budget to 1% of the overall city budget, up from the current 0.8%, and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is concerned about the maintenance of existing and any new trees; and therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that Community Board Five supports the proposal of New York City’s five Borough Presidents for the city to plant a million new trees by 2030, and be it 

FURTHER RESOLVED, that Community Board Five supports the adoption of a goal of a significant increase of canopies, equitably distributed, for our Community District; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that Community Board Five calls on the City to:

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