Words by Smiley Team
By Tom Barwell-Best
Since 2020, Earthwatch Europe have been busy successfully planting a grand total of 160 “Tiny Forests” across the UK, stretching from Bristol to Glasgow and even across the water to Belfast.
And they have no plans on stopping any time soon.
When densely packed into the size of a tennis court, these strategically planted tree plots – consisting of around 600 trees – have the potential to attract more than 500 different animal and plant species within the first three years.
Josh Kubale, senior communications manager at Earthwatch, says these forests have a huge variety of lasting benefits.
“Our main driver is that it gives underrepresented communities the opportunity to get involved with tree planting where they normally wouldn't necessarily have that option” he tells Smiley News, insisting planting is very much only the start of the story.
“The most incredible thing about the tiny forests is their adoption by the local community, in that they are planted by the local community, the local community care for them... and they are really proud of the tiny forests they plant”.
Following the wisdoms of the critically acclaimed "Miyawaki Method" of regenerative forest management established in the 1970s, the Tiny Forest program targets urban areas where nature is most needed, sometimes landing straight into the school yard.
“The kids will come out, they’ll do the planting and then the teachers will continue to use that Tiny Forest as an outdoor classroom," says Josh.
Josh has witnessed the forests “spark such creativity and ideas”, recalling how one resident in Harringay has already started plans to use the space for choir and carol services. “We need people to care... And they really do," he adds. "They really love it!”
Tiny Forests contribute to conservation and biodiversity research, too. A selection of each species of tree is tagged for monitoring, as well as the sites being visited regularly for carbon collection data. They also have the potential to reduce the negative impact of flooding.
Want to get involved?
Working with over 20 partners, ranging from corporations like Bloomberg and Mini, through to local schools and councils, Earthwatch Europe need you to help reach their 2030 goal of planting 500 Tiny Forests across the British Isles.
Whether that's establishing your own forest to bring mother earth back into your neighbourhood, or getting grounded with an upcoming project. You can have a look online at their interactive Tiny Forest map for any sites near you.
“By and large, local authorities are really keen to work with us and more often than not will find suitable locations for us," adds Josh, "it’s not a massive ask.”
For more information, visit their website, and consider sponsoring one of six species of saplings as a Christmas present for your loved ones.
"Nature is not something that happens in the countryside or on the other side of the world," adds Josh. "It happens on your doorstep."