The mayor and the entertainer-environmentalist planted a Carolina Silverbell tree in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, a neighborhood with too few trees and high rates of asthma.
The action launches Million Trees NYC, an initiative of PlaNYC, the green New York program the mayor announced on Earth Day in April.
'New York City has always been a place of big dreams and big ideas - and our administration has never been afraid to embrace them,' said Mayor Bloomberg. 'Over the next decade, with our friends at the New York Restoration Project, we are going to plant an unprecedented one million new trees across the city. I'm encouraging all New Yorkers to get involved.'
The million trees will expand New York City's urban forest by 20 percent.
'I urge every New Yorker to dig in and be a part of Million Trees NYC,' said Midler. 'It's the responsibility of our city's corporations and foundations, developers, block associations, policymakers, home owners and renters - all New Yorkers - to create a million living, growing legacies that will enhance our beloved city and sustain the world for generations to come.'
The Parks Department will receive nearly $400 million over the next 10 years to plant 600,000 public trees by reforesting 2,000 acres of existing parkland and lining New York City streets with trees.Non-profit and community organizations, businesses, developers and everyday New Yorkers will plant the remaining 400,000 trees.
To support the tree planting, stewardship and education programs, the New York Restoration Project and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City will seek the financial and in-kind support of individuals, corporations and foundations. The first donor has already stepped forward. Bloomberg and Midler announced a $1.5 million contribution from The Home Depot Foundation.
Speaking at the planting event, Home Depot Foundation President Kelly Caffarelli challenged other corporations to support the tree planting initiative.
'Planting a million trees will make a noticeable difference around New York City,' said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. 'Trees make neighborhoods more livable and increase property values, cool and clean the air, shelter and feed wildlife. The comforting shade of trees soothes the senses and returns us to nature, rounding out the rough edges of urban life.'
The Department of City Planning has proposed zoning changes, now under public review, that would require the planting of street trees as a condition of all new developments, major enlargements and some conversions in all five boroughs. If approved, the changes would generate 10,000 new street trees each year.
Each request for a street tree will trigger an evaluation of the suggested site by a Parks Department inspector who will check for electrical wires, underground utilities, light posts and building entrances. If it is possible to plant a tree in the site requested, a contractor will be assigned by the city to do the job.
Million Trees NYC is one of 127 PlaNYC initiatives to make New York City more sustainable by 2030.