Over 7 million trees cool the streets of New York City on public and private property, enhancing quality of life, improving public health, protecting New Yorkers from climate change, and providing recreation year-round. Yet in New York and elsewhere, too often these benefits are not spread equitably among residents, with under-resourced communities lacking their fair share of the urban forest. There are, too, often insufficient resources to maintain and grow a city’s vitally important tree canopy. While the urban forest delivers an estimated $260 million in environmental, public health, infrastructure, and energy benefits to New Yorkers annually, there is no dedicated, long-term funding to care for this essential asset, nor is there an equitable or coordinated vision and plan for its management.
Coordinating such a far-reaching project across New York City means bringing together community members, conservationists, policymakers, and others interested in urban forestry throughout the city’s five boroughs; this requires gathering people of different experiences, disciplines, and points of view who all have a shared interest in a healthy urban forest. CBI has been working with The Nature Conservancy since the summer of 2019 to build that coalition among dozens of NYC organizations committed to growing the city’s tree canopy. In the summer of 2021, the collaboration hit a big milestone: the release of its groundbreaking NYC Urban Forest Agenda, a call to action that put forward a dozen critical recommendations—covering tree planting standards, equitable distribution of urban forestry funding, and more. Now CBI is moving into the next phase (called Forest for All NYC), helping the coalition put the plan into action by facilitating a leadership team and four separate action teams.
In February of 2022, all five of New York City’s borough presidents released a call to increase the city’s canopy coverage to 30% by 2035, mirroring one of the key recommendations in the NYC Urban Forest Agenda. And on October 15, 2022, New York City observed City of Forest Day, organized by Forest For All NYC and announced by Mayor Eric Adams. Events included tours of wooded landscape in the Bronx, a public event on tree care with NYC Parks Stewardship in Brooklyn, and a hike through Forest Park in Queens. With CBI’s help, TNC and its partners hope to protect and advance New York City’s forests for decades to come.