New York City is considered a melting pot of people from all around the world, but a new report reveals that the Big Apple’s unique diversity doesn’t just stop with its residents.
Natural Areas Conservancy — a nonprofit, which works in close partnership with the city to preserve and promote ecological diversity and resilience — has revealed that following a two-year study, researchers discovered that across the five boroughs there is a large diversity of nature.
Through 2013 and 2014, the group led a comprehensive assessment — one of the largest studies of its kind in the country — of 10,000 acres of forests, wetlands and grasslands in 51 park spaces throughout the city.
A key finding revealed that nature in New York City is more diverse than people might think with areas including 2,100 species of plants and trees; 350 species of birds; 200 species of native bees and 180 species of rare animals.
“One of the things we would really love to highlight is New York City is incredibly diverse,” said Sarah Charlop-Powers, executive director for the Natural Areas Conservancy. “We know there is a very diverse human population be we found our natural world is incredibly diverse too.”
The nonprofit’s assessment also found that the city’s forests, wetlands and grasslands represent an area that equals 12 times the size of Central Park.
It was also found that 40 percent of the city is landscaped while 11 percent was made up of natural areas, and the city has over 500 miles of coastline.
During the study, the Natural Areas Conservancy also interviewed thousands of New Yorkers to see how the natural areas are used. Three out of 10 New Yorkers said that they tend to go to parks for peace and quite but others go to hike, run, jog, bird watch, walk their dogs and more.
Even as citygoers, Charlop-Powers said the group was surprised to hear that a lot of people voiced how important it was for them to head to their parks.
She added that although there is this idea that a lot of New Yorkers tend to leave the city to go experience the outdoors in other places, many actually decide to stay and explore their own city.
The study also found that a lot of New Yorkers tend to travel long distances — with most traveling more than one mile — to get to parks in the outer boroughs.
“When they want to have an experience in the natural world, they actually stay in the city and go to their parks,” she said.
To highlight the findings of the report and allow New Yorkers to have a more hands-on approach, the Natural Areas Conservancy has revamped their website at naturalareasnyc.org to feature an interactive map showcasing all the diverse natural areas across the city and “cool things to see.”
The site also includes GIFs highlighting results; brochures and pocket guides to encourage New Yorkers to visit spaces nearby; and also opportunities to find out about events such as walking tours, lectures and also volunteer openings.
And along with increasing awareness of the city’s natural world and encouraging others to get involved, the Natural Areas Conservancy is currently using the report’s findings to begin trail and forest restorations at parks across the city.
“We are excited to spread the news and also use it ourselves to make the restorations,” Charlop-Powers said.
The Natural Areas Conservancy will be hosting an event at the REI SoHo store on June 23 where they will provide information on different parks and also encourage people to sign up for future events or volunteer opportunities.