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Washington Square Park Loses Tree Cover, 2017-2023

Photo of a large ash tree being removed in the background. People sitting and watching the removal in the foreground.

I have written previously about the removal of large trees in Washington Square Park. In 2017, Washington Square Park Loses Three Canopy Trees; in 2019, 10 Trees Removed in 2 Years in Washington Square Park; and in 2020, Did fill kill a large American linden in Washington Square Park?.

This fourth post is a tally of tree removals without replacement in Washington Square Park between 2017 and 2023. I am tracking these removals for a few reasons: (1) commemorate the existence of these trees, (2) canopy loss will affect the park's ecology and micro-climate, and (3) tree removals are not indicated on the NYC Tree Map (not even on the Tree Removal and Stump Removal site).

London Plane Tree, 47 inches and 29 inches
Pin Oak, 28 inches
Green Ash*, 25 inches
Total DBH** loss = 129 inches

Paper Birch, dbh unknown
Dawn Redwood, dbh unknown

Northern Red Oak, 23 inches
American Sycamore, 33 inches
Ailanthus altissima, 30 inches
Total DBH loss = 86 inches
(A Deodar Cedar of unknown dbh was removed and replaced)

American Linden, 35 inches
Total DBH loss = 35 inches

White Ash, dbh unknown
White Ash***, dbh unknown
London Plane Tree, 26 inches
Three Himalayan Pines, dbh unknown
Norway Maple, 23 inches [added on June 12, 2023]

Fifteen Sixteen trees have been removed from Washington Square Park since 2017 (including the Ailanthus). Based on the DBH data I have, at least 276 299 inches of trees have been removed from Washington Square Park.

Trees are multifaceted with an intrinsic right to live. People tend to plant trees for cultural and environmental benefits, the latter of which depend in part of tree age. A 3 inch tree, the typical size of a newly planted tree, provides much fewer environmental services than a 30 inch tree. The 28 inch Pin Oak was approximately 84 years old when it was removed from the park. 

The NYC Parks Department is creating a tree succession plan for the park. As part of this plan, new trees will be planted. I do not have information about the contents or the release date of the plan or its implementation. I have asked! My hope for the document is that it prescribes boosting native species and enhancing the mid-story layer.

*Diameter at breast height is measured at 4.5 feet above the ground
**Ash are removed when they pose a failure risk due to Emerald Ash Borer infestation
***One of the ash were at least 40 inches 

This post was updated on April 126, 2023.


Anonymous said…
Thank you for this! Do you know if there are any plans to plant trees in Washington Square Park? Of course it will take time to replenish the lost canopy.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for your question. The Parks Dept. is drafting a tree management plan for the park. Planting will be a component of the plan. I will update the blog post.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the response, and for updating the post! Will keep an eye out for the Parks Dept plan.