Volunteers helping with the Asbury Park Tree Farm

Volunteers helping with the Asbury Park Tree Farm. Credit: Asbury Park Environmental and Shade Tree Commission

Asbury Park, N.J.; September 28, 2013 — At a tree planting event today at Asbury Park’s Westside Community Center, national conservation organization American Forests, alongside funding partners Bank of America and the U.S. Forest Service, announced today that a multi-month assessment of Asbury Park’s tree canopy revealed that the city had gained more than 35 acres of tree cover since 2002, which is equivalent to 28 regulation-size football fields.

The study, commissioned by American Forests and conducted by Davey Resource Group, a division of The Davey Tree Expert Company, analyzed the land cover across Asbury Park’s 1.6 square miles and found that the city’s trees provide more than half a million dollars’ worth of benefits annually through their work filtering air and water pollution and stormwater management.

“As part of our Community ReLeaf program, American Forests is working with cities like Asbury Park to recover from the environmental damage caused by climate events like Hurricane Sandy,” said Scott Steen, American Forests CEO. “We were pleased to discover that despite the loss of some major trees during the storm, the overall tree canopy for the city remained steady. This means Asbury Park can build on a solid base to create an even healthier and stronger urban forest that will realize greater benefits for the city in the future.”

The tree canopy analysis also identified an additional 117 acres of open space in the city that could be converted to tree cover, which is why today’s event, hosted by the local Asbury Park Environmental and Shade Tree Commission and the New Jersey Tree Foundation where local Bank of America and IKEA employees and volunteers helped plant trees at the community center, is one of many that will be conducted this fall in Asbury Park.

Based on the data gleaned from the study, American Forests, Bank of America, the Forest Service and additional restoration funder IKEA will be working with local partners to conduct strategic tree planting efforts with a goal of boosting the benefits that Asbury Park’s trees are providing to the city’s residents.

“We’re committed to helping address social and economic issues impacting people and cities across the nation,” said Bob Doherty, New Jersey president, Bank of America. “By working with American Forests and local partners on this restoration project, we are investing in a landscape that will provide benefits to the city for generations to come.”

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has called urban trees “the hardest working trees in America.” The Forest Service is active in more than 7,000 communities across the U.S., helping them to better plan and manage their urban forests.

This assessment and restoration work in Asbury Park is part of the new American Forests Community ReLeaf program, which is doing assessments in five cities this fall. With funding support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service, Community ReLeaf is conducting analyses in Asbury Park, N.J.; Atlanta, Ga.; Detroit, Mich.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Pasadena, Calif., to help improve knowledge about the benefits urban forests provide to cities and their residents.

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About American Forests
American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many of the most important milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. Since 1990, American Forests has planted more than 44 million trees in forests throughout the U.S. and in 44 countries, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at www.americanforests.org.

About the Bank of America Corporate Social Responsibility
Bank of America’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic part of doing business globally. Our CSR efforts guide how we operate in a socially, economically, financially and environmentally responsible way around the world, to deliver for shareholders, customers, clients and employees. Our goal is to help create economically vibrant regions and communities through lending, investing and giving. By partnering with our stakeholders, we create value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive and contributes to the long-term success of our business. We have several core areas of focus for our CSR, including responsible business practices; environmental sustainability; strengthening local communities with a focus on housing, hunger and jobs; investing in global leadership development; and engaging through arts and culture. As part of these efforts, employee volunteers across the company contribute their time, passion and expertise to address issues in communities where they live and work. Learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/about and follow us on Twitter at @BofA_Community.

About the U.S. Forest Service
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.