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Trees Count! Summary

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In 1995 New Yorkers joined together to count their trees, creating a baseline inventory of the City’s street trees. Ten years later, on April 29, 2005, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe rallied the troops to once again enumerate the arboricultural assets that grace the streets and sidewalks of New York City. Equipped with maps, clipboards, tape measures, and tree identification keys, surveyors enumerated trees by species, size, location and condition in neighborhoods across New York City. With over a thousand volunteers logging a total of 30,000 hours, the effort represents the largest participatory urban forestry project in any city in the United States.

The tree census is an important scientific, technical, and educational effort. The results enable us to characterize our street tree population in terms of its structure, function, and value. This information is used in a variety of ways, including:

  • Management.
    Enables daily and strategic decision-making based on the composition, condition, and distribution of street trees.
  • Education.
    Educating the citizens of New York City about the importance of their street trees by making their communities cleaner, healthier, and better places to live and work.
  • Research.
    Quantifying the benefits provided by New York City’s street trees in terms of environmental services and property values.
  • Planning.
    Tracking the changes that have occurred in the urban landscape over the past decade, as well as estimating future needs and overall trends.
NYC's Top Ten Street Trees (%)
London planetree 15.3
Littleleaf linden 4.7
Norway maple 14.1
Green ash 3.5
Callery pear 10.9
Red maple 3.5
Honeylocust 8.9
Silver maple 3.2
Pin oak 7.5
Ginkgo 2.8

How many are there? Surveyors counted a total of 592,130 trees. This is 93,000 more trees than were counted in 1995-1996, a 19 % increase.

What kind of trees? Census-takers identified 168 different species of trees growing along city streets. Just ten species comprise 74% of the population.

Where are they? Queens remains the borough with the most trees, with just over 40% of the total population. Brooklyn has the second highest number of trees, with 24% of the population

Which borough has the leafiest streets? This honor goes to Manhattan, with an average frequency of 49.4 trees per mile of sidewalk, with Queens a close second at 49.1, followed by Staten Island (48.6), Brooklyn (44.6) and the Bronx (37.4).

Borough New trees
Bronx 50,000
Brooklyn 70,000
Manhattan 20,000
Queens 55,000
Staten Island 25,000
TOTAL: 220,000

Where is there space for more trees? The streets of New York City are about 73% stocked, with space for approximately 220,000 additional street trees across the five boroughs. Neighborhoods targeted for new trees are shown below (dark brown indicate the most new trees).

How valuable are our street trees? Trees work hard for us every day cleaning our air and water, providing shade and a cooler environment, and increasing property values. The results of the census were fed into a model created by the U.S. Forest Service that quantifies the annual benefits of street trees.

Annual Benefits Total
  ($) $/tree $/capita
Energy 27,818,220 47.63 3.41
Air Quality 5,269,572 9.02 0.65
Stormwater 35,628,224 61 4.36
CO2 754,947 1.29 0.09
Aesthetic/Other 52,492,384 89.88 6.43
Total 121,963,347 208.82 14.94

Did you know?

  • There are approximately 5.2 million trees growing on public and private property in New York City.
  • 24% of New York City’s land area is covered with tree canopy, and street trees comprise one-quarter of this canopy.
  • Standing trunk to trunk, our street trees would form a line 118 miles long—the distance from Manhattan to Hartford, CT.
  • Spaced 25 feet apart single file, our street trees would stretch over 2,800 miles--all the way to Las Vegas, NV.


Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a greener, greater New York City will revolutionize our urban forestry program, including:

  • Planting all the empty street tree sites with an estimated 220,000 trees by 2017 with over $200 million in funding;
  • Doubling the current block pruning budget to meet the needs of 592,130 trees as well as increasing the frequency of the pruning cycle from 10 to 7 years