With New Laws, a Focus on Nurturing the City’s Native Plants

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed into law on Monday three “green” bills, one intended to increase the city’s native biodiversity.

The biodiversity measure will actually decrease the city’s overall biodiversity in favor of nurturing native plants. It mandates that the parks department adopt a policy favoring plants native to New York over exotic plants, which can out-compete native species and drive animals dependent on them into extinction, on all city-owned property. Dozens of species of native grass, flower and tree are in decline throughout the city.

Botanical gardens and institutions that house plants for educational or scientific use will be exempt from the law.

One of the other laws similarly restricts the city’s planting policy. The parks department will have to start choosing more stormwater-tolerant plants for the city’s green spaces, in order to sponge up runoff and decrease flooding and pollution. Every year, the law states, more than 27 billion gallons of sewage and dirty rainwater are discharged into New York Harbor when sewers overflow during storms.

Finally, New Yorkers will have access to a renewable energy portal on the city’s Web site, states a law that goes into effect in November. The portal will encourage the public to install solar, wind and other renewable energy systems and will provide a cost-benefit analysis that factors in government incentives, the law says. It will also aim to teach people how to install them.

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