James Aronson, the series editor for our book series "The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration," lives and works in Montpellier, France, but visited New York City last week. He spent part of his visit admiring one of the city’s biggest restoration success stories:
“Just back from my two walks across the gloriously revitalized Central Park.
It’s springtime, and the cherries, magnolias, and oaks are all in full bloom. Did you know that there are more than 26,000 trees in Central Park, and that now it is an absolutely delightful place to spend part of the day?
In the early 1970s, when I lived here as a student, the park was a mess, and dangerous, especially after dark. You jogged or bicycled through at top speed, and avoided it altogether after 5 p.m., unless you were specifically looking for trouble or adventure.
Then, in 1980, the Central Park Conservancy got going. Twenty million US dollars later (from private and corporate donations from thousands of citizens and a few big city banks), and with 3,000 volunteers currently at work, Central Park has arisen like an urban green phoenix. It is now managed brilliantly, cherished by one and all, and is inspiring to millions more around the world.
Restoration is a big part of the story.
Herons, egrets, peregrine falcons, turtles, newts, and salamanders in the bosom of New York City? Yeah, why not? Spreading patches of may apples, vernal witch hazel, bush and various bushy, native northeastern North American ferns? Sure. All of this and more you can find in Central Park today thanks to this heavily endowed—with love and money—inner city restoration program.”On Monday, James reports on his meeting at the New York Botanical Garden about the future role of botanical gardens in the science and practice of ecological restoration. . . . So, stay tuned, and in the meantime, take some time this weekend to enjoy the beautiful spring.