c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Brooklyn’s Last Remaining Forest

April 27, 2021

Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest, 250 acres of beautiful woodlands that are a fragile habitat for wildlife. Prospect Park Alliance Senior Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein sat down for a chat about the importance of our woodlands to people, plants and animals.

“Nature is intrinsically important to human beings. Being able to interact with nature is imperative to our health and psyche. There are lots of plants and animals in this urban oasis that form an important ecosystem to sustain our environment,” said Howard when asked why the park’s woodlands are important to him. “You can conserve wilderness in the Amazon, or you can conserve nature in the center of a city.”

In an effort to preserve the woodlands, Howard studies the overall health of our forest, as well as the positive impact that the Alliance’s landscape management team is making in the park through its woodland restoration efforts. Two good signs he looks for are fewer vines on trees, and fewer non-native invasive plants. His favorite section of woodlands, North Lullwater Cove, has improved significantly in the five years he’s been with the Alliance. 

When asked about what the public can do to help protect the forest, Howard had the following to say: “Recognize that the forests, the trees, are living, and this habitat is filled with living things. We put in a lot of energy to protect, preserve and restore this green oasis, and the public can do its part. If you love the woods, respect them: stay on paths, don’t jump fences, don’t hang from tree branches, don’t litter, don’t build forts. Follow the park rules and the signs. Being respectful of the woodlands really goes a long way.” 

Learn more about the Alliance’s efforts to preserve the environment. And please spread the word on how to be an environmental champion in Prospect Park by following these simple rules:

  • Please dispose of litter in designated receptacles or consider taking your litter with you when you leave the park and disposing of it at home.
  • Please stay on paths in our woodland areas, and do not go beyond fencing or build forts in our woodlands: this protects fragile nesting areas for birds, turtles and other wildlife.
  • Please keep dogs leashed at all times in the woodlands: off-leash hours are provided in our large meadow areas, learn more on our Things to Do with Dogs page.
  • Please do not climb or hang objects on trees in the park: our trees are our environmental treasure. While sap is flowing up to provide nourishment to the emerging buds and flowers, bark is at its most vulnerable. Wounds become easy access for insects and disease.
  • Please enjoy the flowers, but don’t pick as they are important for our pollinators, the cycle of life in any wildlife habitat.

Families can enjoy our Pop-Up Audubon programs to explore our natural areas and learn more about park nature! 

Interested in learning more about park stewardship efforts and how you can help keep the park green and vibrant?  Get Involved in our individual and group volunteer programs.