Manhattan’s UWS has 2nd most trees of borough’s neighborhoods

UWS Has 2nd Most Trees Of Any Neighborhood In Borough: Study

The Upper West Side is one of the leafiest neighborhoods in Manhattan, according to a groundbreaking new study.

Gus Saltonstall,Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge

Posted Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 4:58 pm ET|Updated Thu, Nov 18, 2021 at 1:58 pm ETReplies (3)

An image of an Upper West Side street lined with trees.
An image of an Upper West Side street lined with trees. (Getty Images/franckreporter)

UPPER WEST SIDE, NY — If the Upper West Side is looking greener these days than in the past, you aren’t imagining it.

The neighborhood has the second most tree coverage of any in Manhattan and has seen the third-largest recent jump in the borough in tree canopy acreage, according to a new study.

The first-of-its-kind report by the Nature Conservancy used three-dimensional imaging research done by the city to map the amount of land covered by overhead tree canopy. It found that between 2010 and 2017, New York’s tree coverage grew by more than 3,200 acres, or about 1.7 percent.

Broken down by neighborhoods in Manhattan, the biggest overall increase happened in Washington Heights and Inwood, where tree coverage grew overall by 58 acres. However, the Upper West Side wasn’t far behind.

From 2010 to 2017, the Upper West Side added 37 acres of tree canopy, the third most of any neighborhood in the borough.

In 2010, Community District 7 (Upper West Side), had 266 acres of tree canopy, which grew to 303 acres of tree coverage by 2017 — both the second most of any neighborhood in Manhattan.

The Upper West Side did lose a collection of tree coverage during the period, 30 acres to be exact, but those losses were offset by gaining 66 new acres of tree canopy.

It is a growth of 3 percent, which is the fourth largest tree canopy percentage jump of any Manhattan neighborhood during the stretch.

A notable Upper West Side adjacent area that lost tree coverage was Central Park, which experienced a 2.9 percent drop in its canopy coverage, amounting to a net loss of 25 acres.

A spokesperson for the Central Park Conservancy told Patch that the loss could be attributed to extreme weather — including Sandy, the 2011 Halloween snowstorm and Hurricane Irene.

Invasive species have also played a role, like the Emerald ash borer, which threatens the park’s ash trees; and Dutch elm disease, which is caused by a fungus and spread by beetles.

“Central Park’s tree canopy is healthy and well cared for by the Central Park Conservancy’s tree care team,” said spokesperson Arica VanBoxtel, adding that New Yorkers could help the park stay healthy by staying on walking paths and not stepping on exposed tree roots.

Riverside Park also plays an undoubted role in the Upper West Side’s tree growth in recent years, as well in its acreage lead over Lower Manhattan neighborhoods with smaller major parks.

Trees play a key role in urban equity, helping to lower temperatures, convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and absorb rainwater, researchers told THE CITY, which first reported on the study.

Mapping current tree coverage can help the city protect and improve it in the future — especially in low-income neighborhoods where vegetation is harder to find, they said.

Not all neighborhoods were as fortunate as Washington Heights and Inwood.

Waterfront areas of Southern Brooklyn and Queens, like Coney Island, Canarsie and the Rockaways, lost much of their tree canopies during those eight years due to flooding from Superstorm Sandy.

Read the full “Future Forest NYC” study at the Nature Conservancy website.

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