Parks Department Completes First Street Tree Inventory; Tree Eastie Conducts Tree Planting in the Neighborhood

Earlier this year, the City of Boston launched its first ever Urban Forest Plan with the hope it will help the city prioritize, preserve, and grow the tree canopy throughout Boston for decades to come. 

“The Boston Urban Forest Plan is a year-long effort made up of several phases,” said the Parks Department in a statement on the program. “The first part of our work was the urban forest street tree inventory — an assessment of the existing conditions of the public street trees throughout Boston.”

The data collected during this tree inventory provides an important snapshot in time of the condition of Boston’s street trees. 

“Now that the inventory is complete, we’ll be diving into the data to see what it tells us about this piece of the urban forest,” the statement continued. 

According to the report the 10 most-common trees in East Boston includes: honeylocust at 24.5%, littleleaf linden at 17.4%, Norway maple at 10.7%, green ash at 9.8%, Freeman maple at 9.0%, crabapple at 6.2%, red maple at 5.7%, London planetree at 5.2%, and Japanese zelkova at 4.7%.

In October 2020 the Boston Parks and Recreation Department announced the city would partner with local groups in Eastie, like Tree Eastie, to help create an equitable vision for the protection and expansion of the City’s tree canopy.

Street trees naturally absorb pollution and reduce urban noise by 6 to 15 decibels. 

Alongside the City, Eastie partners and other stakeholders will apply an environmental justice lens throughout the entire process of creating a 20 year “Urban Forest Plan” in Boston. 

Understanding where canopy loss is happening is the first step in addressing these issues through policy, including guidelines for tree canopy protection on public, private, and institutional property.

In addition to the $500,000 budgeted for the Urban Forest Plan, historic investments in public spaces this year will also support the hiring of a new arborist and the planting of an additional 1,000 trees, doubling the yearly total to 2,000 trees planted per year.

On the heels of the tree inventory report, local environmental group Tree Eastie conducted a recent tree planting event across the neighborhood.  For a couple of years now Tree Eastie has been trying to rekindle the neighborhood’s grassroots effort to get more trees planted in Eastie. 

With funding provided by the East Boston Foundation, Mass DCR and BPDA, Tree Eastie launched several programs this fall to improve Eastie’s tree canopy which, at 8 percent, is the lowest in the City of Boston.

According to Tree Eastie’s Bill Masterson the recent tree planting event followed a year of negotiation between the City of Boston and Tree Eastie to allow Tree Eastie to plant street trees in some of the neighborhood’s empty tree wells. 

The group prioritized planting in densely populated areas with heat islands, and has identified 12 initial sites on Eagle Hill. The first dozen trees were planted between October 16-18, with additional trees to be planted in 2022. 

This marks the first time the city has allowed a “friends” group to plant street trees.
“It was an amazing weekend of hole digging and tree planting thanks to an incredible group of volunteers,” said Masterson about the event. “East Boston now has 12 new street trees and 4 fruit trees in the Rockies. Everything went according to schedule. Thanks to the Channel Fish family for hosting and caring for the trees, Parterre Garden for the logistics,  Alex Carbone of the Trustees for tree planting instruction as well as Eastie Farm and Speak for the Trees for its collaboration. Volunteers can now rest up over the winter before we start planting more next spring.”

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