Today, just in time for Arbor Day, NYC Parks rolled out its brand new Hug A Tree campaign inviting New Yorkers to go out and (yes, really) hug their trees! Beginning today and running through the end of the summer, Parks is hanging 1,000 “It’s Okay to Hug Me” signs on trees in parks across the city, encouraging New Yorkers to go out and hug their trees and learn about these vital resources – on Arbor Day and beyond!
Conceived during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, when social isolation was at its peak, Parks created the campaign to provide a sense of comfort and levity for parkgoers during the pandemic. Spending time outdoors has been documented to provide a multitude of mental and physical benefits, and to help boost wellbeing, Parks is rolling out its Hug A Tree campaign to help encourage New Yorkers to go outside, hug their trees, and reap the rewards.
As part of the new campaign, Parks has also created a brand new Hug A Tree web page, devoted to increasing awareness and encouraging stewardship in support of one of the city’s most vital resources — its trees! Through the web page, New Yorkers will be able to easily get involved with the department’s tree stewardship program, and learn about the numerous benefits our trees provide our city.
BENEFITS OF TREES:
- Improving Mental and Physical Wellbeing: Studies have found that being near trees reduces stress, elevates mood, lowers blood pressure, and even boosts our immune systems!
- Reducing Air Pollution, and Removing Carbon Dioxide: Street trees alone in NYC remove roughly 1.2 trillion tons of pollutants from the air each year.
- Absorbing Stormwater: Each year, NYC Trees intercept more than 1.08 trillion gallons of stormwater, which helps protect our city from flooding.
- Lowering Air Temperature: Temperatures in NYC can be on average 10 degrees warmer than outside the city limits! Through shade and transpiration, trees keep hot temperatures in check.
- Providing Habitat for Wildlife: Not just for squirrels! Did you know many salamanders and beavers make their homes in trees too?
- Blocking Noise Pollution: Trees help block noise pollution from places like airports, busy streets and highways, and even construction sites!
We can’t end this post without mentioning one of our favorite ‘tree-hugging’ art installations ~ Susan Stair: Roots on Fire, in East Harlem’s Art Park, following her art exhibition by the same name at Living With Art Salon. Stay tuned for another ‘tree-hugging’ art installation by Stair ~ This time in Marcus Garvey Park (coming this summer).
Check out Maya Lin: Ghost Forest in Madison Square Park ~ towering stand of fifty Atlantic white cedar trees as a harsh symbol of the devastation of climate change.