Million Tree installations in Maintained Public Right of Ways

MillionTree installations in Maintained Public Right of Ways.million tree installationsThere are increasing concerns across the City about the PlaNYC 2030 NYC Parks Million Tree installations where trees are being planted in such high densities in open, grassy, tractor-mowed landscapes that now have become a landscape management problem.

One of those problems is arboricultural in nature- that is, trees with potentially large growing canopies such as oaks, sweet gums, lindens, honey locusts, hedge maples, birches, zelkovas, elms etc have been installed within such close proximity to each other to only become tree branch maintenance and care problems in the future years. The NYC Parks Forestry Street Tree Planting Guideline denotes a tree-to-tree spacing for large growing trees (and trees with potential wide-spreading canopies) to be installed minimally at 25-30 ft distance on center. This spacing (and larger tree-to-tree spacing would be better) allows the tree to develop the full canopy with its full genetic potential for which the tree assumedly was installed in the first place.

Observed at numerous MillionTree planting projects are potentially large canopy trees being installed 8, 10, 12-foot distances on center from each other. An apparently revised tree-spacing policy now directs tree installations as near to each other as possible- assumedly imitating a natural forest. But this is not a natural forest. This is an urban forest and there are significant ecological and social differences between the two. In a natural forest interspecies competition and edaphic forces eventually thin out competing adjacent and understory woody trees within a tree stand. And no one pays for those trees in the natural forest. Yet here in this urban forest it is the tax-payer who pays for every tree installed (with a 2012 price tag of $1550.00 per tree installed) and with that, it is the taxpayer who anticipates that those trees will be managed and cared for well into old age. Yet the current policy of dense tree installation by minimal spacing will see to it that many trees that want to grow large and wide, simply can’t. Other trees will be shaded out growing deformed, others may die. Few will remain into maturity. Perhaps few should have been planted.

The other problem is misguided philosophy about how urban trees function in the urban landscape. By example, MillionTree planting contractors arrive at a previously maintained open grassy location, perhaps along a state or city highway grass strip, across from your home or casino online apartment complex. And the predetermined tree-planting mission by the forest manager is to install as many trees as possible. These tree species could be a mix of understory and large trees, but certainly the oaks, sweet gums, hedge maples and others.

So what is behind this thinking?

The philosophy guiding the tree planting here is so that dense tree installations will shade out understory grasses and weeds- whereby cutting down on maintenance needs by mowing and weeding- like in a natural forest. And we may indeed not find grasses and weeds along the floor of a natural forest with a dense tree canopy overhead. There may be other ecological factors responsible for that. But again, this is NOT a natural forest. It is an urban forest and until those planted trees are able to provide the level of shade deleterious enough kill grass and weeds- then grass and weeds will forever rule the day.

With the trees planted in a highly dense arrangement the care and maintenance that once occurred across the open grassy landscape, is now halted by those that once did the caring. It is now an abandoned landscape with MillionTrees. In short time with adequate rainfall the grass and weeds take over growing with amazing vigor and reaching heights. It becomes a nursery for unwanted invasive plants ever increasingly difficult to control and eradicate as time passes. The site becomes unkempt. Everyday trash and debris get caught up and accumulate. Trash begets trash. Then come the rodents and pest.