Tip Sheets

‘Strategies’ needed before NY plants 25 million trees by 2033

Media Contact

Kaitlyn Serrao

Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address included a new goal to plant 25 million trees by 2033, with a focus on planting in urban areas to combat extreme heat.

Alexander Kobald

Associate Director of the Design Across Scales Lab, College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Alexander Kobald is the associate director of the Design Across Scales Lab in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell. Kobald worked with colleagues at Cornell Tech to design Tree Folio NYC, a digital twin of New York City’s tree canopy, which shows where trees provide the most shade and where they’re most needed. He says it is important to plant trees in the right places, to make sure an initiative like this is successful.

Kobald says:

“The State of New York’s tree planting program is an exciting investment that is certainly needed in urban areas throughout the state. However, making the most of new tree planting is critical.

“Tree planting, while improving climate resilience and providing numerous health benefits, requires money, labor, embodied energy, and community goodwill. Poor planting strategies could have higher failure rates of new plantings and could fail to provide the necessary benefits for the trees that survive. The state should also invest in tools and strategies that can help make sure that trees are planted to best address local needs and have the maximum impact.”

Nina Bassuk

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Nina Bassuk is an emeritus professor and director of the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell. She says the trees will help, but only if those leading the efforts are mindful of research behind how to set these plants up for success.

Bassuk says:

From Singapore to Paris to Atlanta and New York City, cities are planting more trees to offset the effects of climate change.

“Especially in urban areas, temperatures can be much greater than surrounding rural areas due to reflected heat from buildings, concrete, and asphalt. Trees cool the air, shade buildings, sequester carbon, and capture air pollutants among other ecosystem services. However, planting trees without adequate soil will not provide the needed benefits.

“Planting 25 million trees will certainly help cities become more livable as long as the proper soil and tree species are used.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.