According to Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), 13 percent of Hoboken is covered by its tree canopy. The U.S. average canopy coverage for urban areas is 27 percent. New York City’s is below average at 19 percent. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ranks among the highest with 44 percent.
Extreme and alarming weather conditions around the globe have focused attention on trees, especially canopy trees, as an essential tool in dealing with heat, pollution, stormwater and climate change. A city’s tree canopy can have a major impact and provides a natural, economical means of responding to the problem.
Most of Hoboken’s existing tree canopy was established in an earlier era at Church Square, Stevens, Elysian and Columbus Parks, all built more than 100 years ago. In the 1990s, hundreds of shade trees were planted at Hoboken’s South Waterfront, garnering recognition from the American Society of Landscape Architects. This landscape design included a grove of London plane trees at Pier A Park and multiple rows of London plane trees and Chinese elms along the walkway from Newark to Fourth Street.
In the past 20 years, Hoboken has undertaken an ambitious program to build more parks focusing on the western part of town but has failed to make shade trees a priority. Along the waterfront, Castle Point Park is a barren landscape and Maxwell Place Park includes an expanse of concrete at the north end devoid of trees. FBW’s recent proposal for a greenway along Fifteenth Street was rejected by the City. (See link below.)
A study recently published in Nature Medicine determined that nearly 62,000 people died in heat-related deaths in Europe last summer between May 30 and September 4. The countries near the Mediterranean Sea: Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal, recorded the highest mortality rates.
The Lancet published research showing that increasing tree cover to 30 percent, in effect doubling the existing coverage, could reduce heat-related deaths in European cities by 40 percent.
One can search canopy coverage for various cities using Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) which bases its estimates on high-resolution aerial imagery and machine learning algorithms.