Tiny Forest is a movement bringing native woodland to urban areas. Brought to the UK by Earthwatch Europe, these tennis-court sized forests reconnect people with nature and support urban wildlife. Tiny Forests are areas where local schools can come and learn about the environment, and where communities can work together to nurture their own green space. Earthwatch Europe will also work with communities to collect scientific and social data to research how these pockets of native woodland can be part of the fight against climate change and enhance our wellbeing.
However, before a Tiny Forest can be planted, Continental Landscapes works closely with Earthwatch all over the UK, right from the initial site selection stage. Continental have made 11 Tiny Forests a reality with Earthwatch Europe so far, and are planning to work on over 20 more during the 2021-22 planting season. So what happens before a Tiny Forest is ready for the community to enjoy?
Before communities can plant a Tiny Forest, Continental Landscapes:
- make sure that there is no existing underground infrastructure are no cables that will be disrupted by the planting
- dig test pits to check the soil conditions
- prepare the soil by excavating the tennis-court sized area to a depth of 1 metre. They then add the soil back in while loosening it and mix in additional soil supplements to help the trees establish.
COVID-19 restrictions meant Earthwatch couldn’t bring together many members of the community to plant the 600 native trees that make up a Tiny Forest at most of our 2020-21 sites. This is where Continental stepped in! They planted the trees and spread a mulch layer – and when volunteers could join in, they got involved with the community as well.
After planting day, some final touches need adding so that communities can really make the most of their Tiny Forest. To make this happen, Continental Landscapes:
- create outdoor classroom areas with woodchip and wooden benches
- add woodchip paths through the Tiny Forests
- install commemorative plaques
- supply and install ‘biodiversity tiles’ – these are tiles that can be lifted up so visitors can see the wildlife making themselves at home!
- supply and install fencing
It’s set to be a very busy planting season for 2021-22, and Continental will be there with Earthwatch Europe and local communities every step of the way!
Main photo: Witney Tiny Forest, 17 months after it was planted, August 2021. Credit Mark, Witney Tree Keepers