NEW YORK—In the Morrisania section of the Bronx, where high pollution rates mirror high asthma rates, Actress Bette Midler and Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday planted the first of one million new trees planned for making New York City a better place to live. The public and private initiative, Million Trees NYC, will plant and care for one million trees throughout the five boroughs in the next decade. A part of the Mayor's environmentally friendly super plan, PlaNYC 2030, the million-tree plan would increase city trees by 20 percent.
"Trees make neighborhoods more livable and increase property values, cool and clean the air, shelter and feed wildlife. The comforting shade of trees soothes the senses and returns us to nature, rounding out the rough edges of urban life," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe poetically said in a press release on Tuesday.
The Department of City Planning has proposed new zoning changes that would require the planting of street trees as a condition of all new developments, major enlargements, and some conversions in all five boroughs. If adopted this spring, the initiative, now in public review, could generate roughly 10,000 new trees each year.
However, Mayor Bloomberg and Midler, who is founder of the New York Restoration Project, seemed genuinely concerned on Monday that administrative action isn't going to be enough, and New Yorkers will need to take an active role to make the one million trees a reality.
"This is an ambitious goal and to achieve it we're going to need the help of the entire City; I'm encouraging all New Yorkers to get involved," said Mayor Bloomberg.
"It's the responsibility of… all New Yorkers to create a million living, growing legacies that will enhance our beloved city and sustain the world for generations to come," said Midler. "To walk under the branches of a tree that you have planted connects you to the roots of our past and the aspirations of our future."
New Yorkers interested in helping out can plant trees in their yards, join a volunteer group planting trees in parks and on public land or request that the City plant street trees on their blocks. Visit http://www.milliontreesnyc.org for more information.