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c. Martin Seck

PPA Profiles: Steven DiFalco

February 12, 2015

Many New Yorkers are surprised to learn that there is a thriving forest in the heart of Brooklyn. When the Alliance was first founded in the 1987, the woodlands were in a dire state, and in the mid-1990s the Alliance began an ambitious restoration of the heart of the Park’s woodlands, the Ravine. Monitoring the ecological health of the woodlands is an ongoing process, and is spearheaded by the Alliance’s Forest Ecologist Steven DiFalco. Steven joined the Alliance this past June, and continues the work of a long line of committed ecologists in this role.

Steven’s primary role is to monitor the health, height and growth of Prospect Park’s woodlands, which include trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. It is a precarious balancing act of selecting the right native species to plant, and deciding exactly where to plant them to maintain a delicate ecosystem. This means choosing plants, shrubs and trees that will attract birds, repel invasive species and resist harmful insects. In the winter months, Steven analyzes data collected throughout the year, which helps the Landscape Management team decide what to plant and where, as well as spot early signs of disease.

“Some of the trees alone are more than a century old,” said Steven. “It’s extremely important that they receive proper care so they might be there for future generations.”

Steven recently settled into an apartment in Ditmas Park. He has always wanted to live and work in New York. His heart was set on working for an ecologically friendly non-profit organization, which to some sounded unlikely. Like many visitors who come to Prospect Park, Steven was astounded by what he found in Brooklyn’s 585-acre oasis.

“I was shocked by the number of ways that people used the Park,” he said, “I didn’t expect to see so many cyclists, joggers, hikers, soccer players and kids. Prospect Park is beautiful, but it’s the people that make it really special.”