Greening the South Bronx

Posted on Apr 20, 2021 | 0 comments

Greening the South Bronx


Project to Plant Trees in Community Spaces, Benefit Young Urban Foresters and Local Citizen Pruners

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Steve Zahn announced today that Trees New York, a not-for-profit organization working to plant, preserve, and protect New York City’s urban forest through education and community participation, received $500,000 in funding through an Environmental Benefit Project (EBP) to support the Greening the South Bronx project. Greening the South Bronx will use the resources to plant trees in community spaces below 180th street in the Bronx. The announcement was made during DEC’s week-long celebration of Earth Week 2021.

Regional Director Steve Zahn said, “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. Providing funds to projects such as Greening the South Bronx is just the latest example of how DEC is investing in the community and we are especially pleased this project engages young people in work to improve our environment.”

Trees New York’s Greening the South Bronx project is funded through a 2020 DEC Order on Consent totaling $621,500 to resolve the NYC Department of Corrections’ past air quality violations. EBPs are agreed to as part of the settlement of an enforcement matter and are designed to benefit the local community and environment. In this case the NYC Department of Corrections provided Trees New York with the $500,000 EBP to support the Greening the South Bronx project.

Through the project, Trees New York will work with Young Urban Forester interns recruited from local public schools, as well as Citizen Pruner volunteers from the community to increase the tree canopy cover in the South Bronx. The project will plant trees that shade buildings and impervious surfaces including parking lots, playgrounds, and sidewalks, providing a number of environmental benefits for the South Bronx community, including positive impacts to air quality. In addition to tree planting, Trees New York will implement a comprehensive stewardship and maintenance plan to ensure that the environmental benefits from increased tree cover are maximized and sustained.

Nelson Villarrubia, Executive Director of Trees New York said, “Trees clean the air, lower air temperatures, and reduce energy demand. A robust, healthy tree canopy cover helps cool our city. A street shaded by mature trees can be up to 9 degrees cooler than streets with little or no tree canopy cover. With support from DEC, Trees New York will plant trees to reduce energy demand and shade playgrounds, parking lots, and sidewalks in the Bronx. Our planting project includes a comprehensive maintenance and community engagement plan. Additionally, Trees New York will hire high school interns to help us monitor and care for all newly planted trees.”

Trees New York has more than 40 years of experience in tree planting, stewardship and education projects. Since its founding, Trees New York has trained over 13,5000 Citizen Pruners and 10,000 youth in tree care and stewardship. Since 2005, Trees New York has planted over 6,000 trees in underserved communities throughout New York City, half of which were planted in the Bronx.

DEC’s New York City Office (DEC Region 2) continues to collect ideas for future EBPs from non-profit organizations in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. DEC encourages NYC organizations to share ideas by completing this form or by contacting for more information.