For a big, concrete-laden city, New York has plenty of foliage. At last count, there were 592,130 trees sprouting from the asphalt, and that doesn’t include parks and cemeteries.
You can see most of them mapped in these lovely visualizations, created by Jill Hubley, a Brooklyn-based web designer, using the city’s 2005 tree census. “I was interested in creating a spatial distribution so that one could see the overall trends at a glance, or focus on a particular neighborhood or block,” she writes in an email.
New York’s five boroughs have varying tree mixes. Brooklyn, for example, has a lot of red in the visualization, indicating all its London Plane trees. Manhattan has more exotic types like Callery Pear and Japanese Zelkova. Queens, which has the most trees, has more Norway Maple and Honeylocust varieties.
The NYC Parks department is currently conducting the 2015 census along with hundreds of volunteers. Hubley says she’ll update as the new data becomes available.
These days, we know much more about urban forests than we used to. As well as tree counts, we have projects like Open Tree Map and the U.S. Forest Service’s i-Tree platform, which value the environmental and economic benefits of city trees.
Ultimately, counting and mapping trees isn’t a matter of idle interest. It’s about recording the environment around us and, hopefully, appreciating it more. Hubley’s maps do the job.