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In recent years, most efforts to expand New York City's tree canopy—and thus strengthen the urban environment—have focused on planting new street trees or replacing non-native species with native trees in the city's remaining forests. Yet citywide assessments have found that non-native trees have come to co-dominate the city landscape, calling into question these management strategies and the very value of urban forests.
Those assessments might have been looking in the wrong place, according to a new study by Yale scientists and the Natural Areas Conservancy.
Inventory - City - Areas - Team - Researchers
In a comprehensive inventory of the city's expansive yet overlooked "forested natural areas," the team of researchers found that native species still comprise about 82 percent of New York City's forest stands. And it is in these natural areas where the majority of the city's trees are located: more than 5 million in these landscapes compared with about 666,000 street trees.
Forested natural areas are essentially places that look and feel like "the woods" or "forests" as they are more traditionally known, as opposed to urban forest areas typified by street trees and park trees in addition to natural areas. Natural areas exist in stands, or groups of stands, often growing together in patches across the landscape.
Types - City - Researchers - Percent - Types
Of the 57 unique forest types in the city, the researchers found 81 percent are native forest types that bear a closer resemblance to forests you might find in the Catskills or other rural parts of the state than the urban canopy described in those other recent assessments.
These findings, published in the journal Ecological Applications, confirm that native, healthy, and productive forests still exist in the nation's largest city, providing valuable ecosystem services and local recreational opportunities for millions of city-dwellers, said Clara Pregitzer, a doctoral candidate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and lead author of...
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