A New York City Council vote today brings us to a new milestone: 40 Green Codes Task Force proposals are now incorporated into laws and practices.
The particular proposal that brought us to this milestone was UE1 – Increasing Biodiversity in Public Landscapes. In UE1, the Green Codes Task Force was concerned about the impact of public landscaping practices on urban ecology. Foreign species and monocultures widely used in landscaping tend to displace native plant species, and deprive native birds and other animals of the habitat to which they had been accustomed. Many of these species also tend to run amok, spreading far beyond the original planting sites. In addition, many monocultures require intensive irrigation and fertilization, wasting water and polluting the environment.
The law passed today requires the Parks Department to maximize the use of plant species that are native to New York City, where appropriate, and to prohibit the planting of invasive species. Native species tend to require less water and fertilization, and are more likely to survive drought and disease. The use of native species also helps preserve our natural ecosystems, which help clean the air we breathe and the water we drink.
The Council also passed a related law requiring that Parks Department plantings help in stormwater control. The Parks Department is to develop a manual providing information about what plant species and planting materials (i.e., soils) best facilitate stormwater retention, and guidelines for planning and structuring plantings for stormwater management. This law encourages innovative stormwater management practices, as the GCTF called for in its proposal SW5.
Both the stormwater rules and the native species rules are to be followed in Parks Department plantings starting on May 1, 2014. The manuals the department develops will also be available on the city’s website for public use.