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Natural Resources

New Bedford’s natural environment is clean, healthy, accessible to residents and enhances the City’s resilience.  


Natural Resources

NB Resilient Goals

Climate change will impact New Bedford’s wildlife, open spaces, air, and water. To reduce the strain on habitats and to protect the city’s air and water quality, NB Resilient has laid out four goals:

  1. Reduce air, water, soil, noise, and light pollution.
  2. Take an integrated water resource management approach that considers the needs of the natural water ecosystem, human water use, and potential droughts and flooding.
  3. Add more tree canopy coverage equitably across the city.
  4. Protect wildlife and their habitat by using native or sustainable species in landscaping throughout the city.

Read the Natural Resources Fact Sheet

Impervious Surface

Impervious Surface in New Bedford

Impervious surfaces refer to structures such as roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots that are made from impenetrable materials like asphalt and concrete. These surfaces restrict groundwater recharge and worsen flooding while increasing the risk of harmful runoff entering our waterways. As of 2014, 33.9% of New Bedford was covered in impervious surfaces.

This map shows the percent of impervious area within 1 square kilometer. The higher percentage of impervious surface in the city center contributes to the urban heat island effect. Reducing the amount of impervious surface will help residents stay cool during high heat days.

Map of impervious surface in New Bedford, showing the city center with more impervious surfaces that can cause higher temperatures.

Urban Tree Canopy

The Benefits of Trees

Trees in urban and suburban settings provide many environmental, social, and economic benefits to the local community. They provide shade which reduces the need for air conditioning and helps keeps residents cool during high heat days. They reduce erosion, improve air and water quality, and sequester carbon, which slows the onset of climate change. Protecting urban trees in New Bedford is a top priority. NB Resilient outlines actions to create an Urban Reforestation Plan to increase the tree canopy, reduce the urban heat island effect, and improve storm water management.

Water Quality

Watershed Protection

Warming temperatures and more irregular precipitation threaten our waterways and drinking water. To remedy this challenge, NB Resilient has proposed developing a watershed protection plan. This action would ensure New Bedford’s water resources are functioning, healthy, and able to provide a wide range of benefits to people and wildlife.

Check on the status of this action

An infographic: 42 water main breaks and leaks repaired, 300 miles of water main surveyed for lead detection, 109 lead services replaced, 68 linear of replaced water mains

Water Quality

Water Infrastructure

Protecting the quality of our water supply depends both on reducing pollutants and on well maintained infrastructure. New Bedford’s Department of Public Infrastructure (DPI) is proactive about taking measures to ensure our water is safe. To the left is a sample of actions DPI took in 2018 to protect our water.

Learn more about how we're using green infrastructure


How does Biodiversity Help New Bedford?

New Bedford's natural environment plays a critical role in protecting our communities from the hazards of climate change.

  • Reducing runoff protects our fish populations and the jobs that depend on them
  • Dedicated green space soaks up flood waters from intense storms
  • Plants improve air quality and reduce temperatures in urban areas
  • Protecting pollinators improves vegetation health, which slows erosion and helps farmers

An infographic that displays a natural park setting. Callouts read: "Trees cool our city," "Plants reduce CO2 in the atmosphere", "Green space soaks up flood waters", "Healthy soil improves resilience to extreme weather". Statistics read: 15 neighborhood parks. 12+ miles of trails and bikeways. 26 acres of beaches. 275 picnic areas. 53 playgrounds and tot lots.


Don't Feed the Birds!

Waterfowl, like the ducks and geese we find at our ponds and coastal areas, are an important part of the wildlife in New Bedford. While they are fun to watch, it is important that we don't feed them! Feeding wild waterfowl can be dangerous for them, as well as us. Encouraging them to stay where they shouldn't be, disrupting their natural life cycles, spreading disease in their population, and increasing risks to our health as well. Our local bird populations have survived and thrived here for thousands of years - let's help them stay healthy!

Read More About How Feeding Waterfowl is Dangerous 

Las aves acuáticas, como los patos y gansos que encontramos en nuestros estanques y áreas costeras, son una parte importante de la vida silvestre en New Bedford. Si bien es divertido verlos, ¡es importante que no los alimentemos! Alimentar a las aves acuáticas silvestres puede ser peligroso para ellas, así como para nosotros: alentarlas a quedarse donde no deberían estar, interrumpir sus ciclos de vida naturales, propagar enfermedades en su población y aumentar los riesgos para nuestra salud. Nuestras poblaciones locales de aves han sobrevivido y prosperado aquí durante miles de años. ¡Ayudémoslas a mantenerse saludables!


Buttonwood Park Zoo: Our Conservation Hub

New Bedford's Buttonwood Park Zoo is a hub of conservation efforts both locally and across the world. Coins for Conservation has raised $70,00 since its inception in 2015, and the Zoo organizes many species-specific preservation plans.


Actions You Can Take

Join the Movement to Protect our Natural Resources

Protecting our natural resources is a full community effort. Here are some ideas of steps everyone can take to help.

Think Blue Massachusetts has guides and tips for how residents can help keep our waterways clean.
Save money, collect rainwater and protect our natural resources!
Become a Horticultural Volunteer at Buttonwood Park Zoo