In an effort to green up cities, revive wetlands, and restore forests, the state’s DEP has awarded $24.3 million to 14 municipalities for tree-planting programmes totaling more than 4,000 trees.
At a Wednesday ceremony in Trenton announcing the grants, DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said, “New Jersey will avoid the worst effects of our changing climate not only by reducing emissions of climate pollutants, but by investing in natural solutions that sequester carbon causing the extreme heat and flooding repeatedly striking our communities.”
Trenton is one of the cities that will benefit from the “Throwin’ Shade: Greening the Capital City.” grant, which will provide $1.3 million to help fund the city’s plan to plant 1,000 trees.
Natural Climate Solutions Grants were given out for the first time this year. The program’s stated goal is to plant, restore, and improve tree and marsh cover in New Jersey.
Officials believe that the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rely heavily on the expansion and restoration of natural resources that sequester carbon, or trap and store carbon dioxide from the air.
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New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions are to be cut in half by 2050, according to a target established by Governor Phil Murphy.
The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Brick, Ocean County’s Stafford Township Popular Point, and the mouth of the Maurice River in Cumberland County each received grants of about million to restore their respective marshlands.
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American Littoral Society director Tim Dillingham praised tidal marshes as “masters” at sequestering carbon from the air and depositing it underground.
Lighthouse Center in Waretown, Ocean County, was granted an additional $1.8 million to rebuild its salt marsh ecosystem.
“As sea level rises and storm-related flooding intensifies, the protective role of healthy coastal salt marshes multiplies in importance for Jersey Shore towns,” said Adrianna Zito-Livingston, Nature Conservancy coordinator for the Waretown project.
Funding was provided so that hundreds of trees may be planted in public areas in Trenton, Newark, Atlantic City, and Camden.
On Wednesday, Jay Watson, co-executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said, “We believe this initiative may be transformative in our capital city where residents are feeling disproportionate impacts of climate change.”
The “heat island effect” contributes to higher average temperatures in urban regions compared to their more rural and suburban counterparts.