Gowanus Tree Network

The Gowanus Tree Network are neighbors working together to build a healthy urban forest. Tree Ambassadors enroll in free Citizen Pruner training, organize tree stewardship with their neighbors, and enter the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest. We currently work with 16 blocks across the Gowanus Tree Management Area, with 33 Tree Ambassadors, and have done 33 tree bed expansions and installed 75 tree guards since 2018.


Please be on the lookout for the next round of applications in Fall 2022.


All Gowanus Tree Network blocks receive for free:

– Native plants, compost, mulch, and tools required for street tree stewardship (as available).

– Tree bed expansions and steel tree guards (as funds allow).

– Training for 1-3 participants per block to receive a TreesNY Citizen Pruner license.

Blocks must be located roughly 2-blocks from the Gowanus Canal. See geographic boundary here (and map below):












1) Residential blocks:

– Applicant must recruit 1-2 additional Tree Network Ambassadors that will participate in trainings and the block stewardship event (see below).

– All Ambassadors must be a resident of the block they are applying for.

2) Industrial blocks:

– Preference will be given to applicants who live or work in the Gowanus area.

– GCC will provide a list of industrial blocks to adopt, as indicated in the application. You may submit an alternate industrial block for consideration.

Tree Network Ambassadors Timeline:

Fall: Training (Total 8 hours)

1) Attend a 90 minute Gowanus Tree Network Orientation, including program overview, volunteer policies, and volunteer procedure training 

2) Attend TreesNY Citizen Pruner course: (3) virtual 2-hour sessions, and (1) in-person 80 minute fieldwork session 

Spring & Summer: Stewardship & Event Hosting (Average Total 20 hours)

1) Coordinate and host with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, at least (1) public tree stewardship event on your block, engaging participants in: weeding, soil cultivation, mulching, applying compost, planting perennials, and watering.*

2) Take care of trees and plants including but not limited to: weeding, soil cultivation, mulching, applying compost, and watering.

3) Communicate via e-mail, text, call, or in-person meetings with Gowanus Canal Conservancy staff on tree stewardship needs and planning.

Upon program completion, Tree Network Ambassadors will continue to benefit from tools and materials (plants, compost) as available, to take care of street trees.

*All in-person volunteer events will be held with COVID-19 precautions in place.

Additional Background

In 2019, GCC expanded GTN activities to include a pilot Monitoring Program led by block resident volunteers. As part of this project, we partnered with Temboo to install 6 soil moisture sensors in tree beds that track real-time data on stormwater performance and the impact of stewardship on tree health. As GCC moves towards future expansion of GTN, we hope to install more sensors throughout the neighborhood, including new tree plantings that will be required for new development associated with the proposed Gowanus rezoning. If scaled-up, this type of monitoring program could support more efficient maintenance, provide data on the performance of new planting standards, and ensure long-term tree health. For more information about the pilot project and recent coverage in the New York Times, check out the links below.

Temboo: Gowanus Canal Conservancy Solves Environmental Data Collection with Kosmos

The New York Times: Helping the Environment, One Small Sensor at a Time

Gowanus Canal Conservancy partnered with TreeKIT to draft a street tree management plan that will be weaved into the Gowanus Lowlands Master Plan.

Click here for the 2018 State of the Gowanus Urban Forest.

Street Tree Stewardship

Join us at our next volunteer event to get involved in local street tree stewardship! Sign up for volunteer opportunities here.

Gowanus Street Tree Management Plan

In partnership with TreeKit and the NYC Department of Park and Recreation, the Gowanus Street Tree Management Plan:

1) Draws on two street tree inventories completed in 2012 and 2016 to draw a clear picture of current conditions and trends for street trees in the urban forest surrounding the Gowanus Canal

2) Illustrates a vision for the future of street trees immediately surrounding the Gowanus Canal and its larger water/sewer-shed

3) Lays out concrete actions steps to be taken by Gowanus Canal Conservancy and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation for improving street trees in the area

View the Gowanus Street Tree Management Plan here.

Partners and Sponsors

US Forest Service, Department of Agriculture

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR)

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program (Round 15)

The Nature Conservancy

NYC Compost Project hosted by Big Reuse

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