The South Bronx got a little greener this week, as the city allocated $500,000 to Trees New York for planting new trees and other activities, in honor of Earth Week.
Trees New York is a nonprofit organization that works to plant, preserve and protect the city’s urban forests through education and community participation.
The $500,000 two-year grant was made by the Department of Environmental Conservation through its Environmental Benefit Project.
“Environmental Benefit Projects are a powerful tool in our ongoing efforts to improve quality of life by working collaboratively with communities impacted by environmental harms,” said DEC Regional Director Steve Zahn in a press announcement.
Trees will start to be planted this fall, rather than now, to avoid the impact of summer’s extreme heat on the young plants, said Nelson Villarrubia, the nonprofit’s executive director.
Greening the South Bronx Project was originally funded through a 2020 DEC Order of Consent, which resolved past air quality violations by the NYC Department of Corrections. Environmental benefit projects were agreed
upon as part of the settlement of an enforcement matter.
Trees New York will work with interns from local public schools, as well as other volunteers from the community, to increase tree canopy cover in the South Bronx by planting trees that shade buildings and impervious surfaces
like parking lots and playgrounds. In addition to beautifying the South Bronx, these trees will help improve air quality, Villarubia said.
Some of these locations include NYCHA campuses, curbsides, local school campuses and parks throughout neighborhoods south of 180th Street.
“Trees clean the air, lower air temperatures, and reduce energy demand. A robust, healthy tree canopy cover helps cool our city,” Villarrubia said in a statement. “A street shaded by mature trees can be up to 9 degrees cooler than streets with little or no tree canopy cover.”
To engage the community in its efforts, Trees New York will hire high school interns to help monitor and care for all newly planted trees, he added.