Edward Toth Receives The Thomas Stofka Award
The Thomas Stofka Award, now in its eighth year, recognizes Parkies who have dedicated themselves to New York City’s trees and natural areas. Edward Toth is an embodiment of this statement.
Ed started with Parks on November 12, 1985 as a Park Service Worker in Prospect Park. By 1989, Ed become the Director of Landscape Management at Prospect Park where he was responsible for the 526 acre landscape of the Olmsted-designed park, including 250 acres of woodlands and 60-plus acres of manmade lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands.
In his role at Prospect Park, Ed developed an ecological restoration strategy for the Park’s woodlands which resulted in the adoption of a far-reaching 25-year in-house restoration plan and the launching of the $15 million Save the Forest campaign. Through his vision and plan, the Ravine in Prospect Park was transformed from a degraded, denuded landscape into a native ecosystem that thrives today.
In 1998, Ed was promoted to Director of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center (NPC) on Staten Island, a 13-acre nursery, greenhouse and seed bank. Ed directs all aspects of the operation, which provides native plants and seeds from local plant populations in support of the restoration and management of many of New York City’s most valuable natural areas.
In this role, Ed has helped expand the mission and stature of the Native Plant Center, transforming it into an important and relied upon resource for local, regional, and even international partners. Organizations including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Center for Biodiversity, Rutgers, Columbia, and Fordham Universities now turn to the Parks Department’s NPC for help developing and propagating their seed resources. As part of a program called Seeds of Success, the Federal Bureau of Land Management called on the NPC to bank the seeds of plants native to our region.
Ed’s impact in the ecological and botanical fields cannot be overstated. Under his leadership, the NPC has distributed more than 1.5 million plants for use in ecological restoration projects and seed banked more than 620 species. He initiated the bulk seed program in which native seed is made available for restoration projects in the metropolitan area. He helped start Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Plant Population Conservation Initiative, a study focused on increasing the genetic strength of rare and threatened plant communities in the city. He is now embarking on the launching of a Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank in which the Native Plant Center will be the nexus for ecological restoration across this vast sector of the country.
Ed’s career at Parks has resulted in the conservation, restoration, and management of tens of thousands of acres of New York City’s natural areas. Without him and his efforts, our City would be less bio-diverse, less ecologically rich, and a less beautiful place.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains,
however improbable, must be the truth.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(1859 – 1930)