Before Europeans began to arrive in the 16th century, New York was inhabited mainly by Algonquian and Iroquian- speaking Native Americans. Europeans first approached New York from both the sea and from Canada. The English made their claim on the whole region in the Second Dutch War (1664-67). Except for brief recapture (1673-74) by the Dutch, New York remained English until the American Revolution. The threat of the French, however, was continuous, and New York was involved in a number of the French and Indian Wars (1689-1763). Frequent warfare hindered growth, however, and much of New York remained unsettled by colonists throughout the 18th century. Slavery was abolished in 1827. New York was a leader in numerous 19th century reform groups. New York state strongly favored the Union and contributed much to its cause in the Civil War. Economic growth and industrial development in the state accelerated in the late 19th century.
New York has some 150 species of trees. Laurel magnolia, sweet gum, oak, hickory, chestnut, birch, beech, basswood, red and black spruce, balsam fir, mountain ash, white pine, maple, mulberry, locust, and several kinds of willow are among the many varieties found throughout the state.
600 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles are found in New York. Mammals include mouse species, the snowshoe hare, cottontails, woodchuck, squirrel, muskrat, and raccoon. The wolverine, elk, moose, otter, mink, and the beaver are almost wiped out, reduced or nearly eliminated.
20 animal species are now classified as threatened or endangered, including the Indiana bat, Karner blue butterfly, piping plover, bald eagle, shortnose sturgeon, three species of whale, and five species of turtle.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation(DEC) is updating regulations that govern the state’s Green Building program, and the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority continues to provide technical assistance to DEC to that end. The updates are consistent with the state’s Energy Construction Conservation Code and United States Green Building Council LEED Green Building Rating System for new constructions and major renovations. The LEED rating system is the de facto standard for green building in North America. By collaborating with all sectors of the building market, New York and its members are united by a common purpose to transform the way buildings are designed, built and operated and to create environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.
The state’s ‘Sustainability Plan’ is aimed at improving the life of New Yorkers with primary focus on areas like land, water, transportation, air, energy, and climate change. Elements of the plan also address energy efficiency and clean technology. Various portions of the plan involve cleaning up heavily polluted industrial sites, encouraging ferries and bicycling, creating more parks and playgrounds, planting one million trees, reducing emissions in public buildings, and retrofitting or replacing diesel trucks. The state has adopted ‘zero carbon’ initiative to reduce the volume of carbon emissions thought to contribute to global warming. New Yorkers are also encouraged to buy Energy Star rated appliances; using energy-saving and higher-efficiency cooling and heating, energy-saving lighting strategies, better insulation, and more.