A Tiny Forest for Goldthorpe

A spokesperson for Barnsley Council explains how Barnsley Council has partnered with Earthwatch Europe to plant one of the first Tiny Forests in the UK and the first in Yorkshire.

What work are you doing?

The village of Goldthorpe is getting its very own Tiny Forest in spring 2021 to reduce carbon emissions, increase biodiversity, improve air quality and engage with the local community.

What is special about a Tiny Forest?

A tiny forest is a very small, densely planted forest the size of a tennis court, using a planting methodology developed in Japan by Dr Miyawaki. The forest is made up of 600 trees of a mixture of native species and is 30 times denser than a traditionally planted forest.

The forests grow up to ten times faster than regular forests due to the planting and management methodology, quickly creating a new dense green space that is chemical and fertiliser free and a haven for biodiversity, with low management requirements, becoming maintenance free after three years.

Who is involved in planting the forest?

Funded as part of the Towns Fund scheme, Barnsley Council arranged for contractors to break and prepare the ground. Even with large diggers this was not as easy as it sounds, because of the amount of brick rubble beneath the top soil.

The council and Earthwatch Europe will be working with a local school and local community groups to design and plant the forest – following Covid safe guidelines, of course!

What do you think the benefits of the forest will be?

Excitingly, despite the Miyawaki methodology being used globally since the 1970s, it has only very recently been trialled in the UK in Oxfordshire. This means we don’t yet know what the full benefits will be for us in our temperate climate. However, international research shows that the benefits of the forest could include:

• Enhanced carbon sequestration compared to traditional tree planting, due to accelerated growth

• Attracting up to 500 animal and plant species

• Bringing the benefits of a high-quality, biodiverse forest – physical and mental wellbeing, climate cooling, lower stormwater flood risks, biodiversity, improved air quality – right into the heart of our cities and urban spaces.     

• Empowering communities to take positive action for the environment through taking part in our targeted community-wide engagement programme.

How will you know what the benefits of Goldthorpe’s Tiny Forest are?

Goldthorpe’s Tiny Forest will be monitored to keep track of its carbon sequestration, biodiversity and air quality benefits for several years after it has been planted, adding to the bank of research around the efficacy of Tiny Forests in temperate climates.

How will the local community be involved?

Local people will be involved in all of the monitoring activity and the citizen science monitoring days over the first three years of the forest’s life.  The council and Earthwatch Europe will also be recruiting a keeper team to look after it while it establishes.

Once established, the forest will also be able to play a part in the school’s curriculum, teaching students about climate change as well as connecting them with nature.

Images below are from the Tiny Forest in Wychwood, Witney, Oxfordshire.