Pelham Bay Park, Bronx

We work across NYC to restore forests, wetlands, and grasslands.

To enhance New Yorkers’ quality of life, we:
Ensure Healthy Forests through tree plantings and long-term management.
Improve Coastal Resilience by rebuilding dunes and marshes, and creating tools to prioritize wetland restoration.
Conduct Groundbreaking Research to create regional conservation tools and knowledge.
Get New Yorkers Outside through volunteer events, tours, lectures, and trail improvements.

Building a National Coalition

The Natural Areas Conservancy’s Forest in Cities program was created in 2017 to promote and advance healthy forested natural areas in cities across America through science, management, partnerships, and communications.

This program’s latest accomplishment is a brand new national report that highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting America’s urban natural areas and the organizations that protect and care for them. Click to view a one page summary or the full report.

Learn more about this national initiative.

NYC Strategic Trails Plan

The Natural Areas Conservancy and NYC Parks are currently developing the NYC Strategic Trails Plan — an in-depth roadmap for the formalization and maintenance of a network of hiking trails in New York City’s parkland. Click here to learn more.

2019 Report on Urban Forested Natural Areas Management

Read our report on the management of urban forested natural areas, Untapped Common Ground: The Care of Forested Natural Areas in American Cities.

Ensure Healthy Forests

Healthy forests mean a lot more than clean air and greener parks. Each year, our trees capture 1.97 billion gallons of storm water runoff and store 1.2 million tons of carbon per year. NYC’s trees also remove 1,300 tons of pollutants from the atmosphere with a savings in health costs of $93.2 million dollars annually.

New York City has 20,000+ acres of natural areas, more than 10,000 acres within NYC Parks—a land area half the size of Manhattan!

NYC’s urban forests also provide a meaningful connection to nature for millions of people. We support the long-term health of NYC’s forest through our boots-on-the-ground management efforts and volunteer engagement. In partnership with NYC Parks, we created the first-ever long-term Forest Management Framework for all 7,300 acres of forests under the jurisdiction of NYC Parks. This framework sets a bold vision for the future that enhances forest health and biodiversity while creating high-quality recreation opportunities for every New Yorker. Learn more about the 25-year plan and how to get involved.

Growing Native Plants

We support the production of locally-sourced native plants at the city’s Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island. Working with partners across the mid-Atlantic, we conserve genetic material from plants in a seed bank.

Ensure Healthy Forests

We are developing a 25-year plan to determine the staffing and funding needs for 7,000 acres of NYC forests. The goal is to bring all NYC Parks’s forests under active management. In the future, we will engage other conservancies to advise their forest restorations. This project is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the New York Community Trust.

Improve Coastal Resilience

Our experts are leading the charge to prepare for future climate changes and to protect wildlife habitats through salt marsh restoration.

New York City has lost 90% of its historic wetlands.

We safeguard the important functions of well-managed and vibrant wetlands: including buffering neighborhoods from storms like Sandy. We create tools to prioritize future restoration projects.

Improve Coastal Resilience

With NYC Parks, we designed new ways to restore the health of the vital salt marshes in Alley Creek, located in Alley Pond Park, Queens. To stop deterioration of the salt marsh, in 2017 we filled expanding interior pools with sand and then planted native marsh grasses with volunteers from the community. These 23 acres of salt marshes are an important habitat for migratory shorebirds, horseshoe crabs, and many more native animals and plants.

Conduct Groundbreaking Research

We believe that good management comes from good information. Our research allows us to better protect NYC’s natural ecosystems. One of our current research projects is to develop a tool that matches species expected to thrive in future climate scenarios and apply the tool to upcoming restoration projects in NYC thus increasing forest resilience. You can learn more about this project here.

We led one of the largest urban ecology study in the country and are using that information to guide how natural areas are managed and restored. We work with leaders in our field to set goals for the future of nature in NYC — you can find our published findings here.

Our initiatives include starting a network of cities across the country to share and improve best practices on managing urban forests. A survey for urban forestry professionals is here.

Conduct Groundbreaking Research

We are planting our salt marshes with native salt marsh vegetation: smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and salt-marsh bulrush (Schoenplectus robustus), which are specifically adapted to live in salt water and flooded conditions. As these plants thrive, this area will build upon the existing salt marsh, providing habitat for wildlife as well as public health and recreational values to the community.

Get New Yorkers Outside

We’re getting the word out about our city’s amazing diversity and opportunities to hike in forests and wetlands across all five boroughs. In addition to restoring our city’s trails, we organize lectures, tours, and volunteer projects to improve our city’s abundant nature and to help you experience NYC’s wild side.

We are formalizing trails in natural areas to improve access and wayfinding for navigation for New Yorkers. We are closing redundant paths that can harm natural habitats. Take a look at our map of NYC natural areas.

Learn more about our efforts to plan for the future of NYC’s nature in 2050.

Get New Yorkers Outside

We connect New Yorkers with nature by leading tours all year long and in all five boroughs.