FBW | January 2, 2023
On the south shore of Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn, stands an immense American basswood tree with a trunk that measures 60 inches in diameter. This basswood dominates a cluster of trees, two smaller basswoods, a mulberry, a pin oak and a willow. Nearby is an Ohio buckeye and a large white ash. Each year, this single 60 inch American basswood can intercept over 5,000 gallons of stormwater and remove 8,637 tons of carbon dioxide. The tree also reduces four pounds of air pollutants annually. I know all this because I consulted the newly updated New York City Tree Map.
By using this map, I am able to identify the species, size, location and condition of 862,660 trees located in New York City’s parks and on the city’s streets. The map identifies 536 different tree species, the most common by far being the London plane tree representing 10 percent of the total trees. The New York City Parks Department logo is a representation of a London Plane tree leaf.
The New York City Tree Map website describes the value provided by these trees: “New York City’s trees shade us in the summer, beautify our neighborhoods, help reduce noise, and support important urban wildlife. Beyond these priceless benefits, our urban forest provides us a concrete return on the financial investment we put into it. Our publicly owned trees are as much of an asset to us as our streets, sewers, bridges, and public buildings.”
Certain trees, such as the London plane tree, known to survive harsh urban environments, can live to be 200 years old. Thus, for a modest investment an appropriate species of tree provides multi-generational benefits.
The map website details the aggregate benefits of the 862,660 trees, using formulas developed by the U.S. Forest Service. Each year, the trees currently mapped are responsible for absorbing 1.4 trillion gallons of stormwater, conserving 815 million kilowatt hours of energy, removing 1.5 million pounds of air pollutants and reducing carbon dioxide by 1.5 million tons. The economic value of these trees totals $129 million on an annual basis.