Martin Seck

Get To Know Prospect Park’s Trees

March 18, 2020

Prospect Park Alliance recently completed a survey of more than half of Prospect Park’s 30,000 trees through $113,000 in Urban Forestry grants from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The survey focused on the park’s landscaped trees and trees in wooded areas less than 25 feet from a path. This information provides a more nuanced picture of the park’s evolving ecosystem, as well as important insights into the economic, environmental and health benefits of this urban green space. The Alliance commissioned the survey, which was conducted by Davey Resource Group, to create a management plan to help track the park’s tree maintenance and planting needs in the coming years. 

Some top line results of the 15,698 trees surveyed in Prospect Park:

  • The surveyed trees provide more than $2 million in annual environmental benefits. This includes:
    • Air quality: 21,000 pounds of pollutants removed from the air each year, valued at $132,000;
    • Greenhouse gas benefits: 3,000 tons removed from the air, valued at $17,000;
    • Energy benefits: equivalent to 1,300 megawatt hours saved, valued at close to $862,000;
    • Storm water runoff benefits: 22 million gallons saved from the city sewer system, valued at $181,000.
  • 203 species of trees found in the park, including numerous varieties of native cherries, maples and oaks, as well as less common species included the Southern magnolia, a fragrant, flowering tree whose northern range is growing due to climate change, and the bald cypress, which typically grows in swampy conditions and sends up knobby root growths called “knees.”
  • The largest tree surveyed has a diameter of 77 inches, or 6 feet, 5 inches across! This specimen tree, an American elm located near the Bandshell, is estimated to be over 100 years old.

Want to help sustain this vital community resource? One way to support this important work is through the Alliance’s Commemorative Tree Program. During planting seasons that take place each fall and spring, members of the community have the opportunity to plant a new tree in Prospect Park. Through this program, roughly 1,100 trees have been planted over the past 30 years. In addition, each year the Alliance plants a community tree on Arbor Day: learn more about how to get involved in this community celebration.

Want to learn more about Prospect Park’s trees? Check out the Prospect Park TreeKeeper Interactive Map to get info on each of the surveyed trees and their benefit to the community.