Nature in New York City

“Skyscraper national park.” Kurt Vonnegut’s description supports the widely held view that New York City is a paean to the built environment. This collective image includes towering edifices, taxied roadways and neon billboards. The last thing one would expect in this milieu is nature. Yet sprinkled throughout the five boroughs are approximately 28,000 acres of city parkland. Discounting ball fields and swing sets, nearly half of these have significant areas of flora and fauna. They harbor the city’s true treasures: freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, beaches, and forests. Ensconced within these ecosystems are more than 40% of New York State’s rare and endangered plant species.

Still, it isn’t easy being green in the Big Apple. Over the past century, 75% of the city’s woodlands, wetlands and meadows have been destroyed. The persistent pressure of urbanization and its concomitant ailments has driven many of the city’s native plants to the brink of extirpation. We have already lost 43% of our flora including such treasures as the yellow fringed orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) and swamp pink (Helonias bullata).

Read more of my Huffington Post piece

2 Responses to “Nature in New York City”

  1. Joseph Booker Says:

    That was very nicely written. I moved from city because I felt I needed to be surrounded by nature. Even while in Central Park, the sounds of the city were still looming in my ears. Now that I have been away from the city for a few years, I miss it. Not the subway or litter, I miss the parks. NYC does an amazing job incorporating beautifully landscaped parks that can actually take you away from the chaos, even if just for a “New York Minute”.

    You write beautifully Drosera and you have a new fan. I look forward to reading more of your articles and posts in the future.

  2. Marielle Says:

    Thank you for the very kind words! You may be interested in my current series in the New York Times – Autumn Unfolds.

    Cheers, Marielle

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