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
"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
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.