Jennifer Greenfeld knows a thing or two about trees. The NYC Parks Department's Assistant Commissioner of Forestry, Horticulture and Natural Resources says there are more than seven million trees across the five boroughs. The parks department cares for half of them.

The rest are on private, state or federal property. Greenfeld says trees do a lot more than just make things look great around town.

What You Need To Know

  • There are more than seven million trees across the five boroughs

  • The Parks Department is responsible for caring for half of the city's trees, the other half are on private, state and federal property

  • The Hug a Tree campaign features signs on 1,000 specially picked trees in the city, inviting New Yorkers to give the trees a hug
  • Benefits of trees include removing carbon dioxide, reducing air pollution, providing a habitat for wildlife and and improving mental and physical wellbeing  

"It makes the city livable and just sort of softens the edges and quiets things a little bit,” said Greenfeld, who added that the carbon collected from all the street trees in the city is equivalent to taking almost 12,000 cars off the streets of New York City.

A new Parks Department campaign is all about giving a big thank you to trees. Through Hug a Tree, 1,000 signs will be placed on trees in every neighborhood around the city, inviting New Yorkers to give them a hug. 

It's really not as odd as it may seem. New Yorkers flocked to parks as an escape during the pandemic and natural beauty is just good for the brain.

"Study after study after study will tell you just being in green space for ten minutes reduces stress, reduces anxiety,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. 

"Really, we just wanted to offer sort of a safe hug in our own way at a time when really we feel everyone needs it,” said Vanessa Valdes, creative director for NYC Parks. 

One of the first to take advantage of a tree in Riverside Park was Upper West Side Resident Jules Silverman, who, when asked how it felt, said “I love it, I love trees, they make me happy.” 

To find out more about the hug a tree campaign click here.