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'Million More Trees' Initiative Aims To Bring 'Giant Bouquet' Of Trees Across New York City

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - New York City Needs more trees.

That's the message from all five borough presidents Monday.

CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reports on their "Million More Trees" initiative.

They may not look as brilliant now as they do in spring, summer and fall, but about seven million trees rooted around the city are an essential part of New York City's infrastructure.

Monday, all five borough presidents announced they want to add more.

"Your borough presidents are bringing you a giant bouquet of trees," said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.

The Million More Trees program will add more than shade. Trees combat challenges of this moment, Levine said.

"Climate change, resiliency, public health, public safety - all driven by a healthy and strong urban forest," Levine said.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson says the program aims to tackle environmental injustice by expanding plantings beyond parks and playgrounds.

"We can look at other entities: Our public schools, community centers, senior centers," Gibson said.

"Addressing places with highest asthma rates, have the most particles in the air," said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.

Planting one million trees would increase the canopy of the city to 30%.  Right now, it blooms at 22%.

"We're talking about 22% that is divided so unequally across neighborhoods in our city," said chair of the City Council Parks Commission Shekar Krishnan.

Data collected by the Nature Conservancy found that in 2017, Midtown Manhattan had the least coverage in a populated community, with less than 4% (3.98%). Hunts Point and Longwood in the Bronx had just over 8%. Many neighborhoods have less than 18%.

"Low income and communities of color still tend to have less trees and less canopy," said Emily Nobel Maxwell of the Nature Conservancy.

She says this program offers an opportunity to enhance the canopy of New York City in an equitable way.

All backing the program stressed this is a big undertaking. Funding from local, state and the federal government, partnerships with public and private entities are all necessary on the path to a greener, healthier New York City.

Million More Trees hopes to finish the final planting by 2035.

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