JERSEY CITY, NJ – Autumn foliage may be at or past peak here in Hudson County, but Jersey City’s deeply rooted commitment to tree planting is a perennial project citywide. With the value of fresh air at a premium these days, that mission has taken on a new significance to a lot of residents.

“There’s certainly a heightened awareness of how important open spaces and green spaces have been during COVID,” said Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, in a recent conversation with TAPinto Jersey City.

As vital organic fixtures upholding our urban infrastructure, trees offer not just emotional comfort but also cooling shade, cleaner air, and water filtration. In the midst of a constant battle against the impacts of climate change, a robust tree population is essential for fighting flooding, processing CO2, and moderating city temperatures. Recognizing those benefits and more, Jersey City maintains that it is constantly working to improve its tree canopy by tracking the current tree population, while conducting a sustainable tree maintenance and planting program.

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“Despite the paralyzing effects of this pandemic, the administration has forged ahead with its tree-planting efforts this year,” said City Spokesperson Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.”We are still targeting 500 trees for 2020.”

Statistics provided by the City say that approximately 225 trees were planted earlier in the spring. Meanwhile, the current renovation of Riverview Park will see 88 trees, along with 26 trees in Fulton Park. Improvements to the Central Avenue shopping district include a tree-lined street, focused on preserving over 80 existing trees combined while installing 100 additional new trees.

"We utilize a variety of funding sources for these trees, including grants and capital dollars," said Councilwoman Prinz-Arey. "We have also brought on a Forester and Arborist to help us plant and maintain the trees citywide.”

Last November, Jersey City unveiled one of the largest plans for widespread park improvements in decades via the first allocation of the Open Space Trust Fund, with $3 million in park improvements across all of the City's six wards. Nevertheless, successful upkeep of trees in such a dynamic urban environment is subject to a number of factors.

The City has taken steps in recent years to improve the health of the urban forest, adopting Forestry Standards that require proper placement and planting of trees by developers and property owners. Furthermore, the City has increased the required number of street trees planted as part of new development. The Jersey City Shade Tree Committee was established in 2019—comprised of seven members who are appointed by the Mayor to serve four-year terms—with the mission of selecting optimum species, scale of planting, and providing oversight of a sustainable tree footprint within all new development.

“A lot of it has to do with determining tree pit size, and putting the right tree in the right place,” says Prinz-Arey. “The Shade Tree Committee is really focused on reviewing those forestry standards and maintaining the integrity of the City’s trees.”

To keep track of Jersey City’s tree population, a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) analysis is reportedly forthcoming. In addition, the City is currently conducting a tree inventory, thanks to a collaboration with Montclair State University and NJCU. Data is being methodically collected by a trained Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping team, using highly technical devices to ensure correct placement on the base map.

For more information on Jersey City’s environmental initiatives, visit JCMakeItGreen.org.

Last but not least—if you’re a Jersey City resident looking to green up your own property by planting a tree, CLICK HERE for an application from the Jersey City Division of Parks & Forestry. There is no longer a fee for adopting trees, but property owners must maintain and water the trees, and alert the city of any tree-related issues.

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