What are Micro Forests?
Micro forests are grown using the basic principles of the Miyawaki method of afforestation, that prioritizes the natural development of forests using native species.
The Miyawaki Method was developed in the 1970s by Akira Miyawaki, a Japanese botanist and specialist in the restoration of natural vegetation on degraded land......'the Urban Micro Forest'. The abiding principle of the Miyawaki method is using species of trees that would occur naturally in that area and that can work together to create a diverse multi-layered forest community.
This method of afforestation allows trees to be densely planted at between 3-4 per m2, and, with the correct ground preparation, grow up to 10 times faster per annum than a conventionally grown tree, with a 97% success rate. The larger the area the more the benefits, but even a tennis court size of forest can work its magic!
How do we install a Micro Forest?
We follow the base principles of the Miyawaki method as an approach that prioritizes the natural development of forests using native species. Our micro-forests can grow into mature self-sustaining ecosystems in just 20 years, requiring no maintenance. They act as an oasis for biodiversity, heal the environment in many direct ways and help connect the local community back to nature.
So far the Miyawaki method has led to the creation of over 3000 primary forests and the planting of over 40 million native trees worldwide, with a 97% tree survival rate and without the use of chemicals or fertilisers.
Site Specific Methodology
After carrying out a soil test and choosing the trees, with minimal disturbance to the ground chosen to host the micro-forest, we prepare the area by de-compacting using compressed air and injecting biochar, organic nutrients and fungi including mycorrhiza. We spread 100mm of mineral rich topsoil into which cell grown saplings are planted and staked at 3-4 per m2. A further 100mm of wood chip or straw is laid to help keep moisture in and suppress weed growth.
Click here to watch the method of soil preparation, aeration and injection of biochar, nutrients and funghi, enabling optimum support of saplings planted.
We recommend a minimum 'forest' size of 100m2 with a depth of at least 3m.
Our cell grown saplings can be planted all year round. If planted in the summer, we will install dripline irrigation beneath the topsoil layer.
Two – three years maintenance is typically required mainly to weed the area and apply water if required
We will warranty the forest provided we are carrying out the maintenance.
We prefer not to fence off the forest but this is optional depending on location
The benefits of Micro Forests
The benefits cited here are united by the positive outcomes they deliver for the environment and specifically the environment in urban areas, biodiversity, oxygen, carbon capture, storm water management, acoustics, urban heat island mitigation.
- A four-year-old Miyawaki forest of 100m2 + will provide an initial home for over 500 species of insect and animal.
- Each species of native tree can eventually provide a haven for around 80 species of insect unique to that tree.
- As our micro forests contain a mix of 20 tree species, an eventual long-term home for over 1,600 species of insect is created by a 10 year old 100m2 forest (this figure does not include the general insect species common to most trees and other organisms).
- Soil biodiversity as part of the forest creation process
Carbon capture and air quality:
- At four years of growth 1m2 of Micro Forest can sequester 3 kilos of Co2 per annum
- This is due to the dense canopy of native tree heights that is around 30 times more dense than conventional tree planting schemes.
- Each species of tree added to a forest is said to increase the carbon capture potential by 6%. This is due to the greater canopy cover and increased pollination aspects.
- The fertile forest soil we create as part of the process can maximise this carbon sequestration potential
- The forests are also able to emit 2.2 kilos of pure oxygen per m2 per annum
- It is also possible for a Micro Forest to reduce particulate concentrations by 10% locally
- We can calculate carbon sequestering by using software programs such as I-Trees
Stormwater and runoff:
- During storm conditions, just 1m2 of micro forest is able to process up to 150 litres (1.5m3) of water run-off. This is partly due to the fertile forest floor that acts as a sponge
- Due to the dense nature of the planting, localised noise reduction can be reduced by up to 30 times.
- Noise and traffic ‘breaks’ can be created with forest growth
Localised reduced temperature differences of up to 6 degrees are possible due to the forest transpiration and shading effects.
London Design Biennale Forest for Change
How will a Micro Forest develop?
The Forest for Change was a temporary forest, but is a great example of how a Micro Forest Could look after just 8 years development from planting.
With optimum conditions for tree growth created in the soil preparation, trees grow vigorously to quickly create a forest for communities to enjoy in only a small footprint.
The Scotscape Groundscape team had just 7 days to install 'The Forest for Change' which sits at the heart of the 2021 London Design Biennale.
Their mission was to install 400 native trees of varying dimensions and woodland shrubs to bring to life the plans drawn up by Artistic Director Es Devlin in collaboration with Philip Jaffa of Scape Design Associates. The forest needed to host members of the public visiting the London Design Biennale to deliver a genuine sense of walking through a woodland and to feel the benefits of nature in the heart of the city.
Trees for the Forest were source from Barcham Trees who supported tree selection throughout the design process.
Re-homing of the plants
Shrubs are being donated to Greenfingers charity - Scotscape Groundscape's nominated charity for 2021.
Imagine Specifying a Micro Forest in your Urban Landscape
Using an area the size of a tennis court you can create an oasis of calm to support communities and biodiversity.
If you want guidance, advice and installation of micro forests for your projects email: firstname.lastname@example.org