Contradictory to its “concrete jungle” nickname, New York City is home to over 19,000 acres of natural areas, consisting of forest, salt marsh, freshwater wetland, and streams. A new map from the Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC) highlights the location, size, and condition of natural resources throughout the five boroughs, while comparing the percentage of green space among neighborhoods, parks, and City Council districts. When the coronavirus pandemic hit the city, New Yorkers explored more wild parts of city parks as a way to get fresh air and maintain a safe distance from others. But according to the Conservancy, the increase in visitors is putting additional strain on park management, at a time when budgets across the country are being slashed because of COVID-19.
Natural Areas Conservancy
Did you know that New York City has more ecological diversity than Yellowstone National Park? Take Central Park, for example, which is home to “more than 30 species of warbler, vireo, sparrow, thrush, and other songbirds” alone. Or Pelham Bay Park’s eight species of owls. Then there’s the 12 species of ferns at Queens’ Cunningham Park.
These tidbits come from a new interactive map by the Natural Areas Conservancy (h/t Untapped), who studied over 10,000 acres in 51 parklands across all five boroughs (an additional 10,800 acres are managed by the state and federal government and weren’t included in the project). The organization created the map as a way to encourage people to explore the city’s natural areas by showing them what they’ll find — “the types of plant and animal species, including those that are rare or threatened – and what activities are most commonly found.”