By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
Two local presidents were among an international group of arborists and urban forestry experts at the Dept. of Parks and Recreation Forestry Summit, held in Queens in February.
Mike Zeno, president of Local 1508 Uniformed Park Officers, and Ibn Mann, president of Local 1506 NYC Climbers and Pruners, coordinated the seminar that focused on tree care and maintenance.
“There is more to forestry than cutting down trees,” said Zeno. “Our work includes planting, retaining natural resources, preventing soil erosion, caring for trees planted along city sidewalks, pruning and tree removal and more.”
Most New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a public park or urban forest. New York City Parks oversee MillionTreesNYC, a 10-year long-term sustainability plan to plant 1 million trees by 2017. The project was completed in 2015, two years ahead of schedule.
The forestry seminar was designed to further educate the Parks’ unionized workforce on maintaining MillionTreesNYC and other trees and urban plantings citywide.
The seminar participants included arborists in Local 1506, Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375 architects, planners, project managers, scientists, and foresters who assess tree needs and maintenance, as well as Park Supervisors, Park Supervisors Level II, and Principal Park Supervisors in Local 1508.
“The event drew 320 employees from all divisions of Parks Dept. forestry,” Zeno said.
Mann presented three videos he made that feature the work of city climbers and pruners. Mann said, “Climbers respond to the aftermath of severe storms and hurricanes. I believe climate change has intensified weather patterns and the high winds fell damaged and dead trees, increasing our members’ workload.”
“Climbers and pruners remove trees that fall on and crush houses,” Mann said. “The Fire Department is not equipped for this kind of work—that’s where we come in. And we see these types of natural disasters more and more.”
The Parks summit also recognized Mann and Local 1506 members who volunteered after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, and responded to Superstorm Sandy and tornadoes and microbursts in Queens and Brooklyn.