NYC Parks has repeatedly described the north side of the park heavily used by residents as “underutilized", or "sparsely used.” This has caused outcry by residents at Community Input Meetings.

Parks Without Borders presenters said that the trees they plan to remove are "at the end of their lives", "not going to last very long anyway", and that they are taking the opportunity to remove them.

The Parks Department misrepresented the health of the 58 mature trees marked for removal -- a total of 71 trees will be endangered, including an additional 13 due to extreme pruning and adjacent excavation under their Parks Without Borders redesign plan.

There are 129 trees within the scope of work. NYC Parks plans to remove 58 trees -- only 9 for condition. The other 49 healthy shade trees will be removed for the plaza design. Many of the trees are 50-60 feet tall, providing shade to our neighbors.

(PDF: NYC Parks official Tree Inventory by FOIL request.)

(PDF Before / After)

NYC Parks Without Borders Presentation

NYC official report requested by FOIL says only 9 trees out of 58 will be removed for condition. NYC Parks Without Borders Presentation gives the impression that many more trees are "at the end of their lives."

A Parks Without Borders presenter said, "“There are some trees planted in the 70s that will need to be removed. They are Norway Maples. They are at the end of their lives. They are in fact illegal to plant in two states. They are an invasive species and we will be taking the opportunity to remove them".

It should be clarified what it means when Norway Maples are called Invasive. These trees have been long naturalized in the USA, and were popular for their quick and easy growing habits and for their shade. Now they are generally not recommended for these same reasons, meaning that they are aggressive and can out compete native trees. That could be a problem in a forest or a meadow but not an issue in a controlled environment like a park where the trees have not been an issue for the last 40-50 years.

Also, their dense shade and dense roots discourage herbaceous plants from growing around the tree. This is why they are not recommended for planting in a forest, where you would want to encourage a natural growth pattern. But in a controlled setting, like a city park or backyard, where maybe you might want a grove of trees and no undergrowth, they might be fine.

In summary, Norway Maples are generally not planted anymore, but that does not mean that you should go out and remove a mature tree.

NYC Parks Without Borders Summer Outreach Program at Fort Greene Park

Handout of NYC Parks Without Borders Summer Outreach Program at Fort Greene Park

NYC Parks argued that the trees planned for removal block the view of the monument, and were planted too closely together.

Parks policy for new tree installation significantly shrunk the previously existing tree-to-tree planting distance for large growing trees from 25-30 ft between trees to a 10-12 ft distance (and even less). Their landscape architect experts and tree managers cited that such close proximity to trees and dense plantings in groves is perfectly acceptable as it uniquely emulates a forest condition. This practice continues to be seen not only on street tree installations but Parks Capital projects throughout the city.

Long contested by a number of notable urban tree practitioners throughout the 10 year Million Tree planting program is the modification of Parks Forestry's own tree installation distance rule as it doesn't allow for the maximizing of potential tree canopy. A hallmark of the Bloomberg PlaNYC 2030 Million Tree program has been to expand urban tree canopy by 30%, not reduce it.

"UTC increases can be most efficiently realized by maximizing protection and maintenance in combination with new plantings and natural regeneration. If these trees are managed so that their anticipated mature crown projections are realized, significant UTC increases will occur in concert with planting efforts. Therefore, the number of new trees needed to achieve a UTC goal in NYC will depend upon mortality and growth rates of existing trees and new trees."

A Report on New York City’s Present and Possible Urban Tree Canopy (PDF) -- Contact Us

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