Hurricanes and trees

I love articles in the Times about the urban environment.  Somehow they often feel relaxed and substantive.  This article by Lisa Foderaro is no exception.

Throughout the city, the parks department has recorded 8,577 fallen street trees, as well as 3,365 fallen limbs and 1,297 hanging branches. The northeaster, which on Wednesday added an insulting coda to the hurricane, resulted in yet more tree-service requests — 6,226 through Sunday afternoon. But the department’s forestry division had not yet determined how many of those were for fallen trees versus dangling branches. In any case, Mr. Gunther called the storm combination a “double whammy.”

By contrast, during Tropical Storm Irene, there were 3,444 fallen street trees, 3,403 downed limbs and 1,577 hanging branches. And a tornado that cut a path across parts of Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens in September 2010 razed 2,849 street trees and left an additional 6,624 with fallen limbs and 6,225 with drooping branches.

In Central Park, where 650 trees were destroyed or damaged by the hurricane, forestry crews have piled trunks and branches near the park drive at 102nd Street. The mound reaches 20 feet high and runs the equivalent of two long city blocks.

“Each tree is giving its block and community a suite of environmental benefits,” Mr. Gunther said, referring to the positive effects on asthma rates and so-called urban heat islands. “In terms of population numbers, it sounds like a drop in the bucket. But in terms of the environmental benefits, it’s a big loss.”

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