2013-05-22 / Front Page

Forest Hills Tree Giveaway Beautifies, Protects

A growing tradition in the heart of Forest Hills is the  Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance’s (4BNPA) Tree Giveaway Event. On Sunday, May 19, citywide residents lined up in MacDonald Park on Queens Boulevard and 70th Avenue, to adopt one of six unique species among 200 trees, which adopters will take home and plant on private property. 
This was 4BNPA’s fourth tree giveaway since June 2011, which brings its donations up to 645 trees. Years earlier, the 4BNPA had the sole mission of advocating for landmarks and curbing overdevelopment, but then realized how trees complement architecture, and are an important element in restoring our city’s historic landscapes. The New York Restoration Project began coordinating tree giveaways in 2008. Inspiration stemmed from the understanding that while MillionTreesNYC was focused on greening public spaces, private homes, apartment buildings, religious institutions, and community gardens also represent a great percentage of the city which merits tree-planting.
This season, nearly 30 tree giveaway events are being coordinated, and nine are being hosted in Queens. Therefore, New York City’s urban landscape will have approximately 4,500 new trees. Since the inception of tree giveaways, greater than 18,000 trees have been planted.
Forest Hills Tree Giveaway Event Organizer and Preservationist Michael Perlman stated, “Many community residents did not realize the benefits of trees, until some, which were a century-old, succumbed in seconds during the September 2010 macroburst, which was followed by Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Trees enhance a community’s aesthetics and property values, and most significantly contribute to its environmental sustainability.”
New York Restoration Project Community Initiatives Manager Mike Mitchell said, “The trees we give away will clean our air and water, reducing run-off and filtering particulate matter from the air for generations. The value of a city’s urban forest will only increase as rainstorms become more severe and levels of particulate matter increase in our atmosphere.”
Once again, MacDonald Park was selected as the event site to initiate memories relating to its value to the community since 1933, and shed light upon what is a “Central Park” to Forest Hills, which lost 60 mature trees during the tornado. The 4BNPA seeks to restore the “forest” factor in Forest Hills, as a case in point.  
The trees available for adoption were 50 witch hazel, 50 Natchez crape myrtle, 25 Leonard Messel magnolia, 25 centennial magnolia, 25 Persian ironwood, and 25 dawn redwood. This will add to the more frequently planted trees throughout the city over the years, such as oak, maple, sycamore, honey locust, and gingko. 
Tree giveaway events and adopted trees generate lasting memories. Mitchell explained, “At 4BNPA’s giveaway last fall, there were triplets who were absolutely enamored with trees, and their parents were so excited to help them learn and to plant trees at their home. Each of the boys was able to adopt a tree. There is nothing I like to see more than young, intelligent people who exhibit genuine interest in our living world.”
With hopes that each tree adopter would feel as if their tree is part of their extended family, volunteer Steve Goodman designed tree adoption certificates. Trees will be named after local historic sites such as the Forest Hills Theatre, notable local figures such as Architect Grosvenor Atterbury and Helen Keller, and historic street names such as Roman Avenue (72nd Avenue) and Ascan Avenue, which will educate the public while granting the trees an identity. In addition to the 4BNPA, there were volunteers from Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Trylon Vet Care, the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, Forest Hills Jewish Center, and Key Food. Tree-inspired artwork with slogans complemented the tree giveaway site, as a result of the creativity of students of the Queens Paideia School in Long Island City, and Oliloli Arts & Crafts Studio in Forest Hills.
To make this event possible, Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance is partnered with New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and MillionTreesNYC. Toyota is a lead sponsor, American Express is a tree giveaway sponsor, and lead partners are NYRP, plaNYC, and NYC Parks.

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