Nira Rock Tree Planting

On May 14th, Speak for the Trees held a tree planting at Nira Rock in a partnership with the City of Boston’s Urban Wilds Program and the Friends of Nira Rock. Volunteers from the Friends of Nira Rock, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the rock climbing community at Northeastern University joined, as did SFTT board member Joseph Stein and his daughter. As Jerel Ferguson, our Community Outreach Manager, said, “Planting trees is easy when you have the community members, dedicated volunteers, passersby and a dedicated team that cares about the urban tree canopy.”

Volunteers dig the hole for the planting demonstration, while Community Tree Specialist Claire Corcoran demonstrates estimating the required hole depth and width based on the size of the root ball and the location of the root flare.

Nira Rock is located in Jamaica Plain and is owned managed by the Boston Parks Department and its Urban Wilds Initiative. Formerly a quarry, it is now beautifully restored urban wild thanks to the plan developed and implemented by the Urban Wilds Initiative and the Friends of Nira Rock since 2005. The site features two climbing routes, an orchard, a hilltop meadow, and an iconic puddingstone wall. It is a site beloved and cared for by its surrounding communities. Nick Long, Urban Wilds Foreman with Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department, reflects that “the event drew in folks with different relationships to Nira Rock: members of the Northeastern University rock climbing club, neighbors from the area, and longtime advocates for greenspace. Nira Rock is special because of its benefits to residents and wildlife alike.”

Newly planted trees often settle when watered. Here Claire is stabilizing the soil adjacent to the newly planted tree.

The site is covered in many trees, but many of them are older trees that are approaching the end of their natural lives. Recognizing the importance for a forest to have a diversity of trees, including in age, the event ensured that the forest would continue to be healthy and prosper, as young trees are responsible for replacing the old trees when they eventually die, ensuring the continued survival of a forest’s tree canopy. At this event, volunteers planted 11 native trees, including:

We sourced native Witch hazel propagated from seed, for increased genetic diversity and resilience. Here a volunteer waters a newly planted Witch hazel.

Speak for the Trees continues to steward the site, working with the Urban Wilds staff and the Friends of Nira Rock to develop a watering plan to help get these trees off to a great start in their new home. Claire Corcoran, Community Tree Specialist, note:  “It’s wonderful to know that these trees will be well cared for and watered their first couple of summers by the Friends of Nira Rock, our community partner in this event. Newly planted trees need supplemental water to establish new roots, especially during the hot summer months. Volunteer watering will have a huge impact on the new trees’ survival and future health.”


We would like to thank all of those who volunteered and for the support provided by the staff of Boston Parks and Recreation and the Friends of Nira Rock.

Volunteers, Urban Wilds staff, and SFTT staff participated in the planting event. Planting trees is fun!