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Mapping the Trees of New York, One by One

The TreeKIT project aims to make it easier for residents to help care for neighborhood trees
Philip Silva and Yi-Wen Lin with a London plane tree in Queens.
Philip Silva and Yi-Wen Lin with a London plane tree in Queens.Sarah Goodyear

Philip Silva is standing on a sidewalk in Queens, quite literally hugging a tree. It’s an enormous London planetree, more than five feet around, shading the sidewalk in front of a modest rowhouse that serves as both tutoring center and mosque.

Silva strains to pass the end of a tape measure to Yi-Wen Lin, a New York City Parks Department worker who is helping him out with a project called TreeKIT. It’s an ambitious effort to map every single tree in the city of New York (and every single empty tree bed, as well). The finished map would be an online resource for everyone who is working to help these trees survive and thrive in the concrete jungle.