Our Sustainability Commitment
As the city has grown over the past 200 years, Madison Square Park has remained a vital greenspace for generations of New Yorkers. But unchecked human development has taken a toll on our park’s ecosystem and beyond.
In recent years, we’ve observed environmental changes including soil degradation, flooding, a decline in the health of our trees and plants, and a disruption to the seasonal cycles of insects and other wildlife. Madison Square Park is not only a haven for people, it’s a refuge for threatened local wildlife and wildlife migrating through North America.
In 2018, waste generated by park visitors was at an all-time high. Over 1,500 pounds of waste was removed from the park every day. This waste is costly, challenging for staff to manage, and creates greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change, threatening the future of the park. Each day this waste would generate 2.6 tons of emissions—an amount that would require 43 tree seedlings growing for 10 years to offset.
In response, the Conservancy made a commitment to actively nurture the park’s delicate ecosystems, reducing carbon emissions from operations and providing community leadership to reduce waste and consumption.
Environmental preservation is a shared responsibility. We invite our community and other greenspaces to join in learning with us and making change. Together, we will ensure that this green sanctuary can be enjoyed for generations to come.
Explore the menu below to see the accomplishments we have achieved in the following areas:
- We launched the Leave the Leaves campaign. Leaving leaf litter provides food sources and habitats for native pollinators and decomposers, protects plantings, and reduces our carbon impact.
- We wrote the Madison Square Park Tree Conservation Plan. Through this document we are diversifying our urban tree canopy, making it more resilient against pests, diseases, and climate change.
- We launched a public single stream recycling program.
- The Conservancy began diverting 100% of horticultural waste from landfill through composting and chipping.
- We implemented the Burrow RX pest control system, eliminating the need for all pesticides and 90% of rodenticides.
- All standing park lamps were converted to LEDs.
- The Conservancy committed to using at least 60% native plants in all renovated park plantings, supporting native wildlife and reducing the need for supplemental water and fertilizer.
- We conducted a year-long wildlife survey led by expert ecologists to discover and support the wildlife living in the park.
- To further support native species, we began maintaining five bee homes to protect the park’s native solitary bees.
- We conduct quarterly audits of the waste collected in the park and have set a goal to divert 40% of all waste collected in the park from landfill by 2030.
- We conduct annual audits of the energy we use in efforts to reduce our impact, and offset usage which cannot be reduced. To reduce energy use, we’ve purchased more energy-efficient equipment including electric leaf blowers, weed wackers, hedge trimmers and a lawn mower.
- Staff adhere to a written Plants Collections Policy and Invasive Species Policy, preserving the trees and gardens while reducing the threat of outside pests and diseases.
- We launched a public sustainability program, focusing on park & land, park & lunch and park & life. These programs encourage visitors to engage in sustainability initiatives as part of their everyday lives.
- We held a free Native Plant Giveaway, donating plants from our summer collection to neighbors to replant in support of local wildlife. We held volunteer events across the five boroughs, planting 1,000 trees and shrubs in NYC’s urban forest.
- We began a Food Scrap Drop-off to provide a free and convenient location for community compost. 2,546 pounds of food scraps were recycled in the first three months of the program.
- We hosted the Greenspace Race, a New York sub-project of the City Nature Challenging, encouraging visitors to make observations in NYC greenspaces through the free iNaturalist App.
- Recycling and composting are offered at programs and events in the park and are working to make all events zero waste.
- We are working with restaurant partners to offer closed-loop reusables products that will cut down on the single-use items thrown away in the park everyday.
- We partnered with the Climate Action Now app to develop informative content and create community based sustainability challenges.
- We partnered with the Green Dining Association to help local restaurants reduce their environmental impact.
- The Madison Square Park Sustainability Committee was formed. This curated group of 20 educators, environmentalists, ecologists, and philanthropists advocates for and advances Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Sustainability initiative to make meaningful change.
- The Conservancy published the Guide to Restoring Native Plants in NYC, highlighting plant species that do the most good for wildlife.
- All Conservancy staff have been trained on the impacts of climate change and on strategies on how to reduce our impact. Staff are empowered to use their voices to inspire others to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Staff participate in New York City Sustainability initiatives including the Forest For All NYC Coalition, the NYC Pollinator Working Group, the Sunrise Movement NYC and The Climate Reality Leadership Corps.