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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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August 25, 2003

Contact: Jack Kaskey

DEP Conducts First Study of Urban Forest Health

(03/118) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Forest Service is surveying the health of the state's urban forests this summer and fall, the first time such a study has been undertaken in New Jersey.

"The long-term benefits of trees in urban communities are undeniable," said DEP Deputy Commissioner Joanna Samson. "Trees clean our air, they filter our water and they keep summer temperatures down. That is why it is important to study the health of our urban forests, and that is why Governor McGreevey has set a goal of planting 100,000 trees in our neighborhoods."

Funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the DEP's urban forest survey is the first of its kind in New Jersey and the third such survey in the nation. The $200,000 study will focus on 182 plots of urban trees. The survey will analyze basic tree statistics such as height, crown condition, physical damage, as well as impacts from insects and disease. The survey will generate comprehensive data that will enable the DEP and local communities to enhance and improve the management of New Jersey's urban forests.

DEP is notifying private landowners whose trees will be surveyed as part of the noninvasive study. Residents are encouraged to allow state foresters on their property to study trees in order to conduct the most accurate sampling of the state's urban forests.

The New Jersey Forest Service will complete the surveys in the summer of 2004. The state Forest Service plans to conduct additional studies every five years to evaluate the long-term health of urban forests. If successful the U.S. Forest Service may extend the urban assessment program to other states.

"The U.S. Forest Service selected New Jersey as a model state because of its demonstrated commitment to improving the quality of life in cities and towns through the planting and care of trees and forests," said Kathryn Maloney, the USDA Forest Service's northeastern area director.

Studies have shown that trees provide numerous environmental benefits to urban areas. Their leaves help improve air quality by absorbing noxious gases and trapping particulate matter from the air. Trees also help filter and clean water supplies, reduce water runoff, flooding, erosion and storm-water management costs.

According to a recent EPA study, summer surface temperatures in Newark are on average 10.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than suburban surface temperatures, an effect known as the "urban heat island." Trees can help lower urban temperatures by six to 19 degrees.

Trees reduce noise pollution by absorbing sounds, and they offer protection from winter winds and blowing snow. Trees make towns more attractive to business and tourism, transforming a neighborhood's appearance and increasing home market values, as they bring nature closer to where we live and work.




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