Whether trees are categorically lovelier than poems, as Joyce Kilmer famously suggested, is a matter of debate. If pressed, I'll take Ode on a Grecian Urn over Charlie Brown's Yuletide entry any day of the week. New Yorkers will agree, however, that there is a certain magic present when, in the asphalt jungle that characterizes the groundscape in Gotham, a tree grows in Brooklyn—or, for that matter, in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx.
It is the practice of this arboreal magic—which is to say, the protection, preservation and enhancement of New York's street, park and forest trees—that inspired the establishment of the New York Tree Trust.
Begun in 1996 by then Commissioner of Parks Henry Stern, the New York Tree Trust is a program of the City of New York/Parks & Recreation and the City Parks Foundation. Its mission, as stated on the Trust's official website, is "To foster public-private partnerships in urban forestry, raise public awareness of the importance of urban forestry conservation and stewardship, promote new technologies to enhance tree survival and advance innovative management tools and revitalize historically and arboreally significant municipal trees."
The Role of the Trust
The trees that enjoy the protection of the Tree Trust are the ones on public land—along city streets, in parks, in forested areas owned by the city—although the Trust does offer instruction in how to plant and care for trees on private property as well.
One of the first successes of the Tree Trust—and one of Stern's motives for establishing it—was to teach would-be vandals that if you mess with an NYC tree, there will be consequences.