February 15, 2011

Young street tree mortality in New York City

An occasional series about the rules and regulations of street tree planting, pruning, and removal in New York City.  This post extends the purview of the series to include research about street trees in the city.  Other posts in the series are Street tree planting rules in New York City, Street tree removal in New York City, and Street tree pruning rules in New York City.

"Signs of direct tree care or stewardship" are key social factors in low mortality rates for young street trees
Quoting at length from the abstract of a new US Forest Service research article:
In dense metropolitan areas, there are many factors including traffic congestion, building development and social organizations that may impact the health of street trees. The focus of this study is to better understand how social, biological and urban design factors affect the mortality rates of newly planted street trees. Prior analyses of street trees planted by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation between 1999 and 2003 (n=45,094) found 91.3% of those trees were alive after two years and 8.7% were either standing dead or missing completely. Using a site assessment tool, a randomly selected sample of
13,405 of these trees was surveyed throughout the City of New York during the summers of 2006 and 2007. Overall, 74.3% of the sample trees were alive when surveyed and the remainder were either standing dead or missing. Results of our initial analyses reveal that highest mortality rates occur within the first few years after planting, and that land use has a significant effect on street tree mortality. Trees planted in one- and two-family residential areas had the highest survival rates (82.7%), while young street trees planted in industrial areas, open space and vacant land had the lowest rates of street tree survival (60.3% -62.9%). Also significant in predicting street tree success and failure are species type, tree pit enhancements, direct tree care/stewardship, and local traffic conditions. These results are intended to inform urban forest managers in making decisions about the best conditions for planting new street trees.
The article, "Biological, Social, and Urban Design Factors Affecting Young Street Tree Mortality in New York City," was written by Jacqueline W.T. Lu, Erika S. Svendsen, Lindsay K. Campbell, Jennifer Greenfeld, Jessie Braden, Kristen L. King, and Nancy Falxa-Raymond and published in Cities and the Environment (Volume 3, Issue 1, 2010).

Do you know the mortality rate for young street trees where you live?

Hat tip: the California ReLeaf blog.

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