For Immediate Release
April 30, 2007
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Mayor Thomas M. Menino today kicked off the City's Boston Shines weekend and Arbor Day with a ambitious new urban forestry program that aims to plant 100,000 additional trees in Boston neighborhoods on both public and private properties, growing tree canopy cover in the city by 20 percent. The tree planting initiative, "Growing Boston Greener," is a unique public-private partnership. A coalition of non-profit, city, state, and federal organizations are working to transform Boston's urban forest in order to improve the urban forest ecosystem, public health, and quality of life for Boston's residents through the Boston Urban Forest Coalition (BUFC).
"This innovative partnership is not simply about beautifying Boston and cleaning our environment, it's also about civic engagement and strengthening neighborhood roots," Mayor Menino said. "This is an investment in our neighborhoods that can really bring people of the community together. This tree planting program is yet another example of how we can all make Boston shine 365 days a year."
Mayor Menino would also like to recognize his Chief of Environment and Energy James W. Hunt III and Toni Pollack, the city's Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, for their hard work and dedication to making this plan a reality.
After completing the first comprehensive assessment of Boston's urban forest last fall, which included a detailed inventory of all street trees and a remote sensing assessment of overall canopy cover, BUFC completed an assessment of the data that showed Boston to have 29 percent canopy cover.
Today's announcement was made at the Geneva Cliffs Urban Wild in Dorchester. Last year, Mayor Menino worked with NSTAR and area residents to transform the former substation site into usable open space for the Dorchester neighborhood.
"The well-being of Boston's residents is inextricably linked to the well-being of the urban environment," said Sherri Brokopp, chair of BUFC and Sustainable Cities Program Director at the Urban Ecology Institute. "Growing Boston Greener provides opportunities for Boston's residents to bring about lasting and meaningful change in their communities by becoming integral partners in managing and expanding the urban tree canopy."
The City of Boston is proud to be partnering with the U.S. Forest Service on two initiatives. The first is to develop the nation's first Urban Research Forest. The Forest Service currently maintains several research forests in our national parks that serve as important sites for understanding the many long term ecological benefits that trees provide. By launching the first urban research forest, Boston will have the opportunity to focus resources and the efforts of top research scientists from the U.S. Forest Service and local universities on making Boston's urban forest a national model for decision making, education, and research. The second initiative is to work with the U.S. Forest Service to develop a carbon offset program that will enable people to off set their carbon footprint by contributing to the growth and maintenance of Boston's urban forest.
Michael Rains, director of the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station added, "We are extremely proud and excited about our partnership with Boston to help emphasize urban natural resources stewardship. This work will be important to help link the city's environmental health with community well-being. The urban experimental forest will ensure the urban forests of Boston will remain healthy through science-based actions."
Ultimately, the goal of these two initiatives is to better link environmental health with community well-being in our city. This year, a statewide effort is seeing more than 200 trees planted made simultaneously across the Commonwealth on Arbor Day. The 2007 Massachusetts Arbor Day Celebration is coordinated by Eagle Eye Institute (EEI) in partnership with the Massachusetts YouthBuild Coalition, and it is funded in part by an Urban Forestry Challenge grant from the DCR as part of EEI's 9-month Green Industries Career Pathway program. The Arbor Day Celebration aims to increase community awareness of the valuable role that trees play in an urban environment and to build community involvement in the care and protection of urban trees.
"We commend the mayor for his leadership in urban forestry and are pleased to be part of this exciting canopy initiative. Today, we are announcing our 10-year commitment to spend $60,000 each year to plant a total of 1,200 trees on DCR property in the city, and a five-year commitment to provide $20,000 a year for Arbor Day tree plantings throughout the city. We hope this innovative program will serve as a model for urban canopy programs across the state," said Priscilla Geigis, acting Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
As part of the Arbor Day events, BUFC will work with YouthBuild Boston to plant 15 trees at Geneva Cliffs. Geneva Cliffs, located at Geneva Avenue and Bowdoin Street in Dorchester, is a two-acre site and is the last protected urban wild in the area.
In addition to improving the health of the Commonwealth's residents, the Arbor Day tree plantings will demonstrate the benefits of organizational partnerships and individual community efforts, resulting in a positive impact on direct community service.
This year's statewide celebration follows the success of a similar Arbor Day event held in Boston in 2006. At that event, Eagle Eye Institute and YouthBuild Boston worked with BUFC and other organizations to plant 100 trees in Dorchester, Mission Hill, East Boston, Mattapan and Roslindale.
To register for a tree planting, volunteering to help plant trees or get more information from the city about caring for trees, go to the city's website at www.cityofboston.gov/parks/streettrees/growboston.asp or call 617 635 4505.