Ever wondered how many trees are in your neighborhood, or what types they are? Well, the city of New York has succeeded in letting its residents know just that. In an initiative called The Street Tree Map, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation relied on volunteers in its TreesCount!2015 to record the number and details of each tree in NYC then created the Street Tree Map website.
“The New York City Street Tree Map brings New York City’s urban forest to your fingertips. For the first time, you have access to information about every street tree in New York City,” the website reads. “Learn about the trees that make up our city’s urban forest, mark trees as favorites and share them with your friends, and record and share all of your caretaking and tree stewardship activities.”
The website divides the city into different neighborhoods and counts the trees in each one. For example, according to the website, the area of Queens has around 284,404 trees while in Brooklyn there are 178,544 trees. Users can enter a specific zip code to know the exact number of trees in any given New York City street. Each tree is represented by a circle on the map and the larger the circle is, the larger the diameter of the tree is. The website visitors can also filter the results according to tree species.
The website aims to do more than just map trees, however. Street Tree Map set out to understand the ecological and economic benefits of having those trees in the city’s streets. The website states that trees absorb around 1.1 billion gallons of stormwater, valued at some US $10 million
“Urban stormwater runoff is a major source of pollution entering wetlands, streams, lakes, and oceans. Healthy trees can reduce the amount of runoff and pollutants in receiving waters,” the website says, continuing that “the interception benefit is the amount of rainfall that does not reach the ground because it evaporates from the crown.”
“As a result, the volume of runoff is reduced and the time of peak flow is delayed. Trees protect water quality by substantially reducing runoff during small rainfall events that are responsible for most pollutant washoff,” it adds.
By providing shade to buildings, lowering temperatures during summer and reducing wind speed, New York City trees help save around 676 million kilowatts hours, which translates to US $85 million. The trees also remove 645 tons of air pollution which saves the city US $6 million, as well as 628,601 tons of carbon dioxide, saving US $4 million. According to the website, the annual value of money saved by trees totals US $111 million.