Bringing trees to the suburbs

Wollongong’s Botanic Garden curator Felicity Skoberne told the ABC the council is bringing trees to the suburbs, following the lead of Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, by planting tiny forests.

“The Miyawaki method was about putting forests in urban areas, and that’s what a tiny forest can do,” Ms Skoberne said.

These small spaces are designed to deliver big impact, and the advantages of bringing trees to the suburbs include:
• A small footprint (as small as a tennis court)
• They’re filled with a diverse mix of native plants normally found in the wild, and suited to local growing conditions
• Closely planted at three to five plants per square metre, and
• Plants are selected to replicate the layers of a forest (a bottom, understorey, canopy and emergent).

The soil is carefully prepared before planting and the site is maintained in the early years to help these forests mature in record time – growing in as little as 10 years, compared with up to 70 years it takes a forest to restore.

By swapping grass with a range of plants and trees, these multi-layered forests create 30 times more green surface area than grass alone, and can still thrive in busy, polluted, built-up areas where they can:
• Offer shade and cooling of the air
• Help maintain clean air and water
• Provide habitat for animals and insects
• Restore local biodiversity
• Create a buffer to reduce noise
• Absorb carbon dioxide to reduce the impact of global warming, and
• Become a self-sustaining system with less maintenance.

The tiny forests are just one part of Council’s Urban Greening Program to create a more liveable future.

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