It seems like just yesterday that MillionTreesNYC reached its halfway point of 500,000 trees planted, but now they’re already up to 800,000! Mayor Bloomberg helped plant the 800,000th tree yesterday on Governors Island in an act that also symbolized the completion of the first phase of the new Governors Island Park. The 30-acre green space is due to open in May of 2014.

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MillionTreesNYC is one of the city’s most important green initiatives and is part of NYC’s comprehensive, long-term sustainability agenda, also called PlaNYC. The program began in 2007 with the goal of reaching one million trees planted by 2017. By planting so many new arbors, New York City can increase its urban forest. An urban jungle is the one of the few things that keeps the city from becoming a sweltering valley of concrete and steel. At the same time, greenery is important to keeping our air clean.

“MillionTreesNYC has not only increased NYC’s urban forest, but also engaged thousands of New Yorkers to help clean the city’s air and green its public spaces,” said Director of the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability Sergej Mahnovski in a release.

“Today, thanks to the efforts of over 27,000 volunteers and the leadership of partners like Governors Island,” he continued. “We are 800,000 trees closer to reaching our goal of one million, ensuring a greener, greater New York for generations to come.”

The new 30 acres of parkland on Governors Island will include Liggett Terrace, a six-acre plaza filled with seasonal plantings, water features and public art. Other features of the park include the 1,500 trees of Hammock Grove and a 14-acre wide Play Lawn.

Meanwhile, the most picturesque destination of the park will be a site known as The Hills. The 10-acre area will be built up using recycled construction and fill materials to create a hill 25 to 80 feet above the Island. When completed in 2015, the highest summit will provide vistors with a 360-degree panorama of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and the Lower Manhattan skyline.

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Images © NYC Mayor’s Office