Natural Resources

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


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!

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.
To learn more, read our Natural Resources Fact Sheet.

Impervious Surface

Gray Space

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 and increase the risk of harmful runoff entering our waterways. One NB Resilient strategy is to research and find opportunities to install alternatives to impervious surfaces and hardscapes in the City. As of 2014, 33.9% of New Bedford was covered in impervious surfaces.

A map of New Bedford that shows the percent of impervious surface area throughout New Bedford. The most impervious area of New Bedford in the north end of New Bedford

Impervious Surface

Impervious Surface in New Bedford

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 heat island effect, which refers to the hotter temperatures that accompany built out areas. Reducing the amount of impervious surface will help residents stay cool during high heat days.

Source: EnviroAtlas

Impervious Surface

Open Space

Maintaining open space throughout the city prevents increasing the amount of impervious surface and brings social, cultural, and environmental benefits to residents. New Bedford has over 3,000 acres of open space with two thirds of that land dedicated to conservation and recreation.

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.

Urban Tree Canopy

Canopy Coverage

In 2014, Mayor Mitchell set the goal of planting 5,000 trees by 2030. At the time the goal was set, the tree canopy covered 32.8% of the city. The goal is to increase the canopy covering to 42.5%. This graph shows how New Bedford’s tree canopy compares to surround communities of a variety of sizes.

Urban Tree Canopy

Economic Value of Trees

Not only do trees create a more visually pleasing city, they also provide invaluable services like filtering our air and sequestering carbon. These services result in nearly half a million dollars in annual values, not including the value of carbon stored in trees.

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.

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.

Actions You Can Take

Help Keep Our Environment Healthy

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

Save water with a rain barrel
Save water with a more efficient showerhead
Grow your own food in a community garden
Find tips on how to keep our water clean


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.


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

Become a Citizen Scientist!

New Bedford's Buttonwood Zoo helps organize the local branch of Frogwatch USA, and they always need volunteers! Why should you care about frogs? They're an important indicator of wetland health! Healthy frogs means healthy wetlands, and that means less erosion, fewer invasive species, and a more stable water table for our community.

Sign up for Free Frogwatch Training at the Buttonwood Zoo
Learn About the National Program, Frogwatch USA
Become a Horticultural Volunteer at Buttonwood Park Zoo