The Native Forest

The Garden was established at its location in New York City specifically to protect a 50-acre native forest, a remnant of the old-growth woodlands that covered most of what is now a vast urban landscape. The Forest still stands at the Garden’s center, surrounding and protecting the Bronx River, and the Garden continues to engage in new management practices to protect the Forest in this rapidly changing world.

Although the Forest was never cleared to make way for agriculture or other development, it nonetheless suffers from changes in the surrounding landscape wrought over the past centuries. Invasive plant and insect species, disease, air pollution, and soil compaction have taken their toll on the native species in the Forest. In response, the Garden has developed and is implementing a Forest Management Plan that lays out goals, protocols for research, maintenance practices, and other forest management issues. The Garden also developed “A Vision for the Future,” which specifies implementation actions to further enhance the role of the Forest. The Garden has already begun an initiative to remove invasive species, often with volunteers, as well as a Citizen Science program to collect research data on the trees of the Forest.

Managing the Native Forest brings together many of the Garden’s central functions. It is a one-of-a-kind ecosystem whose conservation is of critical importance, an unparalleled scientific resource, a place to teach City residents, children, and others about the importance of nature and natural systems, and a connection to the natural world so often lacking in urban environments.