A review of a century of change in New York City's urban forest

The Thain Family Forest has been maintained by the New York Botanical Gardens since 1895. Credit: NYBG

Long-term studies of urban forests have not been conducted, but data collected from the Thain Family Forest, which has been managed by the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) for more than a century, provided an opportunity for The Forest scientists. has provided Schools at YSE to study a century of changes in their structure.

Using inventory data from 1937-2021, Elliott Nagel, who began the research while a forester in Thain and a student at YSE, used forest composition to assess forest health over time. Documented diversity, and changes in composition. the study, published I Journal of Forestry, was held in partnership with NYBG, which offers a joint degree with YSE. It was co-authored by YSE’s Marlyse Duguid, Thomas J. Siccama Senior Lecturer in Field Ecology. Mark Ashton, Morris K. Jessup Professor of Sylviculture; and PhD student Thomas Harris. NYBG’s Todd Forrest, Erica DeLuca, and Maria Martello were also co-authors. This was the second one. Published studies In a project examining unique data.

“Long-Term Monitoring of Forests [is] Rare and old-growth forests in the East are rare to begin with. At this site we have 80 years of plant-tracking forest structure and composition, so we have a much deeper picture of forest dynamics,” Duguid said.

Urban forests are important to the health of cities and provide benefits such as carbon sequestration and local temperature moderation. They also provide and provide recreational and educational opportunities.

The researchers found that the Thai forest experienced significant changes in species composition. After the loss of the eastern hemlock to an invasive insect, the forest increased its proportions and included hardwood species such as oak, hickory, red maple, black cherry and American beech. Yet, prevailed. Despite the changes, Remained stable with efforts to remove understory vegetation.

“Old-growth forests have changed significantly. Late-growth forests do not remain structurally the same. They change composition from one late-growth generation to the next. A reflection of the dynamics of these forests in relation to the introduction of pests, disease, , and storms that can potentially be attributed to changes in climate. So far, the forest has responded as a community because one species has taken over the growing space of another species,” Ashton said.

The authors noted that with consistent protection and management, urban and rural forests can develop in similar patterns, encouraging a regional approach to forest management.

“In this study we show that with continued protection, , and the absence of deer, a mature forest is embedded within the urban metropolis that can sustain important ecosystem services. Forests mirror patterns of change across the region; And support the regeneration of native plant species diversity, Nagel said. throughout the region.”

Forrest, who is vice president of horticulture and living collections at the NYBG, said the 50-acre Thyene Forest, once part of the New York City-wide forest, reminds us of resilience and nature’s promise. Teaches something. City

“We hope this research will help us be better stewards of the forest and encourage others to take a closer look at the pockets of nature in their cities,” he said.

More information:
Eliot Nagel et al., A Century of Change in a Mature Urban Forest: The New York Botanical Garden’s Thayne Family Forest, Bronx, NY, Journal of Forestry (2024). DOI: 10.1093/jofore/fvad057

Provided by
Yale University

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