Urban Forests Project

Brad Oberle and collaborators

Cities thrive with healthy urban forests. From street trees to old growth fragments, the urban canopy cools neighborhoods, cleans air pollution and prevents flooding while generally promoting mental and physical health. For all of these incredibly valuable benefits, scientists know relatively little about how trees grow and forests function in the very distinctive urban environment. My research seeks to fill these gaps with the unique resources at the New York Botanical Garden. The Thain Family Forest is the only uncut stand remaining in New York City and one of the most extensive and thoroughly researched urban forests in the world. The living collection more broadly represents the global temperate tree flora as tended by horticultural experts. Beyond the fence, urban forest researchers are examining trees and forests in greenspaces around the city and into surrounding rural areas. By partnering with other experts at the Garden, enhancing research infrastructure for the living collection, facilitating groundbreaking research from academics across the region and delivering actionable information about the urban forest to decisionmakers, I aim to make a positive difference for people of all backgrounds who rely on abundant, diverse and healthy forests in the Bronx and in cities around the world.

The canopy of the Thain Family Forest in autumn, with the Manhattan skyline on the horizon.