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Forever Wild and Natural Areas

Dozens of sites within our park system, totaling thousands of acres, have been identified as the

most ecologically valuable lands within the five boroughs, and as priority areas for protection

and conservation. These Forever Wild preserves, in combination with additional natural areas,

are displayed in the tables and maps below. When designing a project in one of these

preserves, the use of native plants is required. Planting outside these areas may include a

broader palette of native, adapted, or non-invasive ornamental species. Specific boundaries of

the preserves can be found on the individual park maps located at The intent of this guide is to

promote the use of native plant material as appropriate to increase biodiversity in New York

City‟s wild ecosystems.

Edges and Landscaped Areas

When working on edges of ecosystems, introduced species can have ecological value in

addition to improving aesthetics or restoring historical plant palettes. As appropriate, non-native,

non-invasive plants may be used, taking care that they do not spread into the nearby

ecosystem. Historic and cultural landscapes listed on, or potentially eligible for, the National

Register of Historic Places and designated as local landmarks by the City of New York

Landmarks Commission may call for appropriate ornamental or historically present non-native

species. At these sites, planting choices shall conform to the United States Secretary of the

Interior‟s Standards for Historic Preservation. Many of these sites contain remnant or re-created

cultivated and domestic landscapes with a variety of non-native species contributing

considerably to their value as historic cultural resources. At these locations, landscape

architects and natural resource professionals must determine appropriate boundaries and buffer

zones between ecological preserves and historic landscapes. Where historic and cultural

landscapes fall within Forever Wild sites or natural areas, they are excluded from the native

species only planting mandate.

Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Areas

Local Law 10 of 2013 strongly encourages the New York City to maximize stormwater retentive

plantings. Included in this guide is a list of relevant plants to use in stormwater capture sites.

These sites have unique conditions that can be challenging for some native plants. Parks has

spent the last three years researching and field testing these plants. The native plants that have

performed well in these conditions are identified in the plant descriptions, and in a separate


Supporting Biodiversity

The stated purpose of the enacted native species law is to increase biodiversity within the five

boroughs of New York City. Research tells us that planting native species in our intact

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