A piece of land the size of a tennis court in Bristol will soon become one of a hundred “tiny forests” planted across the UK over the next three years. The miniature forests are part of a nationwide initiative to replenish precious woodland areas in cities, and will be planted across Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, and Glasgow with trees ranging from mighty oaks, birch, elder, blackthorn, and guelder rose.
The forest in Bristol is on a plateau next to the River Trym in Southmead. It is part of a grander project called the Trym Valley Open Space Regeneration, which works to bring trout back to the waterway and includes the planting of the rare black poplar on the riverbank.
The concept of the tiny forest is based on a management methodology developed in the 1970s by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. This methodology involves planting many different species close together in urban areas. The planting of tiny forests can help keep the air clean and provide habitats for animals and insects.
Earthwatch Europe, an environmental charity, has already planted two tiny forests in Oxfordshire and is working with the OVO Foundation to plant more. According to Earthwatch, tiny forests use no chemicals or fertilizer and can attract more than 500 animal and plant species within the first three years.
Locals are thrilled with the idea and are anxious to see if a forest in such a small space would flourish. The community has more plans to improve the river and plant a community orchard.
In addition to regenerating more green space, the planting and maintenance of the tiny forests is a way to involve young people as “citizen scientists” who work to collect data on topics from carbon absorption to flood mitigation and biodiversity.
Each forest is estimated to require up to a hundred volunteers on planting day, forty people on monitoring days, and approximately five forest ambassadors, volunteers who commit to regularly support the maintenance of the forest.