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Young Street Tree Mortality

flowering street tree

With the increased investment of New York City and other US cities in urban tree planting, it is important for managers to take steps to ensure the trees' best chance of survival. This is only possible with detailed information about the social, biological, and neighborhood design factors that contribute to tree mortality and survival. In order to attempt to answer these questions, in the summer of 2006, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation embarked on an intensive study of young street tree mortality.

The successful establishment of urban street trees is so crucial because trees must reach maturity in order to maximize proven urban forestry benefits. Reported survival rates vary widely, and many studies focus on one or a few variables potentially affecting street trees. The methods and results presented here are from an unprecedented study of 14,000 of New York City's newly planted street trees. Our hope is that other cities will replicate at least part of this study in order to add to the profession's body of knowledge about early tree planting success in ways that allow us to learn from one another.

The Site Assessment Tools document posted here is intended to give general guidelines for replicating the data collection methods used in this study. These methods were chosen with rapid data collection in mind and many are based on simple presence or absence of observable phenomena. Even collecting a small portion of this data could prove valuable for statistical analysis of street tree populations across urban environments.

NYC Young Street Tree Mortality - Site Assessment Tools document (PDF)

The presentation below was given by Jacqueline Lu and Jennifer Greenfeld at the Partners in Community Forestry National Conference in Philadelphia, PA on November 9, 2010. The slides here provide the most up-to-date information about the research and data analysis associated with New York City's young street tree mortality project.

Partners in Community Forestry conference presentation (PDF)

The Pendragon PDA form posted below is intended to assist other municipalities with rapid data collection for a street tree mortality project of their own. The basic form is compatible with Pendragon software and can be used to tailor a data collection format to the needs of your project.

Pendragon data collection form for PDA (PFF)

The research framework and preliminary statistical analyses from this project were recently published in the peer-reviewed online journal Cities and the Environment (CATE). This current issue of CATE is fully-comprised of research that emerged from the MillionTreesNYC Research Symposium, held in the Spring of 2010.

Lu, Jacqueline et al. 2010. Biological, Social, and Urban Design Factors Affecting Young Street Tree Mortality in New York City. Cities and the Environment 3: 1.

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