Graduate Project


Central Park's Woodlands: Forest Community Changes After a Decade of Management Public Deposited

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  • The woodlands of New York City's Central Park have seen varying levels of management and neglect since the creation of the park over 150 years ago. The Central Park Conservancy has aimed to restore, enhance, and elevate the stewardship of the park, including its woodlands and other Natural Areas, since its inception in 1980. A study conducted nearly a decade ago (Alvarez, 2012) aimed to describe the ecology and biodiversity of the park, with a large component being a field survey (using the point centered quarter method) of woody species in each of the park’s three designated woodlands: The Ramble, the North Woods, and the Hallett Sanctuary. This study aims to build upon that survey by completing a similar, expanded survey using largely the same methods, in an effort to quantify changes in the woody plant community after nearly a decade of active management. The comparison of the two datasets is striking and shows improvements along the trajectory desired by the Natural Areas management team: increased native species as well as overall diversity (when comparing metrics such as richness, evenness, Shannon index, etc.), positive changes in native species recruitment, and decreased presence of non-native species and recruitment of invasive species, due largely to management efforts. The Great Hill, another woodland in the park but not officially designated as such, was also surveyed using the same methods and showed marked differences in its diversity metrics when compared to the three woodlands designated as Natural Areas. These findings suggest that management strategies in the Natural Areas of the park have been effective, and potential for their successful application in other areas of the park is evident.
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