Why Our Trees Matter
Why Our Trees Matter
Each Arbor Day, we thank our trees for all of their hard work. They provide clean water, shade on hot summer days, and habitats for our favorite animals. They clean our air and keep carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere –– something that is becoming more important as the park faces increasing implications of climate change.
At Madison Square Park, the Conservancy cares for the nearly 300 trees that makes the park an officially recognized accredited Level 2 arboretum by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. Each and every one of these trees do important work and provide value to our community.
By utilizing the National Tree Benefit Calculator, we can learn about how much trees improve our daily lives. This calculator considers the species of tree, diameter, the location of the tree, and amount of human interaction the tree is likely to have in order to explain the tree’s value in its community.
One of our favorite trees in the park: the september elm, Ulmus serotina. This tree on the Sol LeWitt Lawn, stands at 71 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter, and is one of the park’s biggest and most productive trees.
Elms from the United States, like the september elm, are threatened by Dutch Elm disease, making them rare and endangered in their native habitat. 201 types of caterpillars including the Question mark Butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis) depend on these trees to complete their life cycle. In return, 14 bird groups including the Waxwings look to these elms as sites for food and nesting.
By holding rain in its leaves and bark and filtering water through its roots, this Elm tree can intercept 6,402 gallons of water each year. Rainfall, polluted by busy streets and litter is cleaned and safe to use for other species in the park, as well as the water that makes its way to your home.
This tree has a canopy of 84 feet. Its leaves provide shade that keep the park and nearby buildings cooler even on NYC’s hottest days. In a year, this tree saves our community $38.60 in electricity fees!
This tree’s most important function may be its ability to hold, or sequester carbon in its root, trunk, and leaves. The september elm can keep 1,717 pounds of carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change from entering the atmosphere. That’s the same amount of carbon dioxide a car would emit after driving 2,000 miles.
The calculator can estimate that the september elm adds an annual benefit of $306 to our community. Now, imagine the value that all 300 trees which make up our arboretum’s canopy provide.
While it is important to assess the invisible benefits of our trees, we should also reflect on the peace and happiness they bring us each day. For all of these benefits, join us in saying thank you to our trees for all of their hard work.