The city Parks Department has planted over 34,000 tees in Brooklyn since 2012, far outpacing the 4,000 trees lost in the borough as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Sandy was more devastating to New York’s trees than any other weather event in the city’s recorded history, with nearly 10,000 being removed citywide by the department after the storm.
The number of trees planted is a rare bright spot in the city’s seven year slog of Sandy recovery, which has politicians, experts, and residents worried that the city is not ready for another major storm.
In the coastal community boards most heavily impacted by Sandy, namely CBs 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 15, and 18, which include coastal Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods as well as Red Hook and Sunset Park, the city has planted 15,000 trees since the storm, a spokesperson for the Parks Department told Bklyner.
In CB 15, which encompasses Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, and Gerritsen Beach and was one of the areas most heavily impacted by the storm, 2,352 dead trees were removed by the Parks Department after Sandy. The spokesperson said that 2,937 trees have been planted since then in that area.
The city’s tree coverage was recognized as an issue before the hurricane, when the city partnered with the nonprofit New York Restoration Project to adopt a goal of planting 1 million trees in 10 years, between 2007 and 2017. The project was completed before its deadline, in 2015.
But problems persist. Many of the trees lost to Sandy were old and lush; trees grow slowly, and it can take years for new trees to achieve the same foliage.
“A mature tree is much more useful because there’s more leaves, more shade, more cooling, more breaking up the wind,” said Abe Albenda, a member of the Manhattan Beach Community Group, a neighborhood association lobbying for Sandy resiliency projects and neighborhood improvements.
However, at Manhattan Beach Park, Albenda said, there are dozens of empty pits where trees were supposed to be planted. The Parks Department says that it plans to plant 450 trees in CB 15 over the next year, and officials have told Manhattan Beach residents that they plan to replenish the park’s trees.
The Parks Department inspectors in their two most recent inspections in October 2018 and April of this year deemed the condition of the trees in the eastern side of the park “unacceptable.”
“All I know,” Albenda said, “is we have dead trees and empty pits.”