The Nature Conservancy and Partners Secure $8 Million to Expand Tree Canopy in Newark, New Jersey

Grant from U.S. Forest Service Poised to Combat City’s Heat Islands, Ranked Second-Worst in the United States

a view of trees over tall skyscrapers.
Green Cities Trees reduce energy usage, remove air pollutants, filter stormwater, and cool hot city streets by providing shade and releasing water vapor. © Shutterstock

Media Contacts

On September 14, 2023, The Nature Conservancy and a coalition of partners were awarded an $8 million grant from the United States Forest Service to expand and improve the tree canopy in the City of Newark, the site of the nation’s second-worst heat island effect according to Climate Central. These funds are the largest award made in New Jersey through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

“Nature belongs to everyone, and by expanding Newark’s tree canopy we will help bring much-needed benefits to Newarkers, including increased shade, improved air quality and better stormwater management,” said Johnny Quispe, Cities Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey. “We are thrilled to partner with the City of Newark and a strong coalition of organizations on a community-based approach that will serve as a model for cities nationwide.”

The grant, one of 385 issued as part of a commitment to increase equitable access to trees and nature across the nation, enables citywide tree planting, long-term tree maintenance, green workforce development programs to bolster the local economy, and ongoing measurement of benefits from planted trees in Newark over the next five years. 

Quote: Ras Baraka

What greater symbol of Newark’s life and health is there than to plant a tree? And to plant thousands of trees?

Newark Mayor
Aerial view of Newark, New Jersey.
City of Newark Newark is ranked as the site of the nation's second-worst heat islands. © Shutterstock

“What greater symbol of Newark’s life and health is there than to plant a tree? And to plant thousands of trees? It says Newark is bursting with life, its people are thriving and our future is rooted in the kindness and care we demonstrate today for our city of tomorrow,” proclaimed Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “I could not be more grateful to the U.S. Forest Service for this monumental grant for expanding our tree canopy. With our intention to design, create and maintain this new green infrastructure with a newly trained workforce, this award will enliven and revitalize not only our landscape, but our residents as well.” 

“This project is much more than trees; it's an investment in the future of our neighborhoods, community-based organizations and environmental justice,” said Kim Gaddy, Founder and Executive Director of the South Ward Environmental Alliance. “This project brings much-needed support to combat urban heat islands, air quality, and flooding issues that impact all Newarkers."

“The tree planting effort underscores our coalition’s dedication to shaping a brighter future for Newark,” said Nicole Miller, Chair of the Newark Green Team. “Together, we can address the imminent health concerns affecting our residents such as deadly heat and poor air quality while paving the way for economic opportunities.”

Project partners include South Ward Environmental Alliance, Ironbound Community Corporation, Newark Green Team, Greater Newark Conservancy, NewarkDIG, Trust for Public Land, Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, the City of Newark and Unified Vailsburg Services Organization.


The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on X.