Problem Addressed

This solution was sourced in response to UKGBC’s Innovation Challenge: “How can communities and local authorities implement, maintain, and assess the impact of nature-based solutions to enhance climate resilience?”

Environmental issues such as flooding, heat stress and loss of biodiversity are increasingly affecting urban areas. Creating thriving and climate-resilient urban areas that support economic growth, whilst also enhancing livelihoods and wellbeing, is a considerable challenge.

Solution Overview

Tiny Forest is an innovative tree planting initiative that establishes accessible, nature-rich green spaces in our towns and cities, where they are needed most by people and wildlife. The disproportionate power of a Tiny Forest is delivered through three positive impacts:

  1. Physical: dense, fast-growing native woodlands, bringing a range of environmental benefits and consisting of around 600 trees planted in a tennis-court sized plot of 200m2, and using no chemicals.
  2. Social: local communities, schools and businesses directly engaged in planting, maintaining and monitoring of the forests
  3. Scientific: public and citizen science activities that support data collection on the environmental and social benefits of Tiny Forest, uploaded to Earthwatch’s open-access digital data platform.

Tiny Forest’s approach is about planting ‘the right trees in the right places’. It works with local authorities to identify locations that will maximise value by planting in areas of high deprivation, creating green corridors and greening schools. In addition to the physical creation of the forests, Tiny Forest also empowers local communities to care for and maintain the forests, as well as partaking in scientific research at every forest planted, to assess the impacts they have over time and between forests. Tiny Forest provides outdoor space for people to enjoy nature, as well as educational and volunteering opportunities, resulting in a multitude of benefits for the community.

The total cost for the 2-year Tiny Forest programme is £40,000 +VAT which includes site selection, landscaping, materials, preparation and construction, community engagement, research, education and sundries.

Although return on investment has yet to be determined, early assessments already indicate high potential for positive impact including improved soil quality and species diversity as well as 100% of participants rating their experience as positive. Further study is already planned, but initial results suggest that Tiny Forest represent a cost-effective alternative to traditional tree-planting and urban landscaping options, when the combined environmental and social benefits are taken into consideration.

Verification & Case Study

Tiny Forest is now undertaking a programme of research across the UK to address key knowledge gaps around the social and environmental benefits of Tiny Forest, when compared to traditional planting strategies. It also plans to build an evidence-base on the efficacy of Tiny Forest as an impactful and scientifically robust nature-based solution for urban environments.

Tiny Forest also uses a combination of self-directed and Earthwatch-led citizen science activities to undertake social and environmental monitoring. The social element includes surveys of participants and local residents to discern how engaging with nature can support positive health and wellbeing outcomes. The environmental monitoring seeks to quantify the benefit of a Tiny Forest for carbon capture, flood management, thermal comfort and biodiversity.

Case Study

By spring 2022, a cluster of nine Tiny Forests (known as Wee Forests) will have been established across Glasgow, with the first five planted ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) that took place November 2021. This Tiny Forest network is contributing to Glasgow City Council’s Climate Plan, creating vital stepping stones for species movement and creating a living legacy from COP26 for communities across Glasgow. Councillor Richardson, Glasgow City Council, said: “As we look to meet our objectives of our Climate Plan exciting projects such as this, in the heart of our communities, will ensure we continue to improve our environment while providing opportunities for our communities to actively participate in climate related activities.”

Facts and Figures

£40,000 +VAT

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