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New York will soon have a miniature forest with 1,000 native plants.
Climate Environment World News

New York will soon have a miniature forest with 1,000 native plants.

A small woodland consisting of over 1,000 indigenous plants will appear in New York City in April, occupying a 2,700 sq ft area on the southern end of Roosevelt Island in Manhattan.

This will be the first small forest in the city, and advocates believe it will bring aesthetic biodiversity and practical advantages for residents dealing with more severe weather conditions.

Illustration of trees in front of a city landscapeView image in fullscreen

In the 1970s, Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki developed the idea of planting high-density, rapid-growing trees and shrubs, which has gained popularity in several regions such as Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. Cities in the US, like Los Angeles, Berkeley, Portland, and Cambridge, have embraced this concept by creating miniature forests using native plants.

Currently, our urban areas consist solely of solid structures. Elise Van Middelem, who established the non-profit organization SUGi, plans to reintroduce various plants such as white oak, Virginia strawberry, New York fern, and eastern white pine to Roosevelt Island. This is in response to the lack of absorbent surfaces caused by excessive concrete, resulting in issues with flooding and heavy rainfall. By creating miniature forests within these cities, they can serve as natural sponges to mitigate these problems.

Planting forests in the style of Miyawaki offers a variety of advantages, including temperature regulation, sun protection, water retention, carbon sequestration, and the revival of habitats for animals like birds and insects.

“Biodiversity is intrinsically tied to the climate emergency,” Van Middelem expressed. “The vast range of natural wonders that flourish from once barren landscapes is truly astonishing.”

When planted in nutrient-rich compost-enriched soil, layers consisting of both shrubs and a canopy have been proven to grow quickly due to their competition for sunlight. Once established, these dense groups of plants can flourish in compact urban areas with minimal maintenance.

“I am excited about the implementation of green infrastructure that serves to cool the community during a time of increasing global temperatures,” expressed Mark Levine, the borough president of Manhattan. “We have the ability and responsibility to continue implementing such initiatives. I propose that the next one is implemented in low-income communities of color, which currently have significantly fewer street trees compared to wealthier areas of the city.”

During days with excessive heat, individuals from marginalized communities and those with lower incomes are most impacted by the effects of heat, such as air pollution and limited access to trees and shaded areas. This is exacerbated by subpar cooling systems. According to evaluations of peak summer temperatures, the south Bronx neighborhood experienced temperatures up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius) higher than wealthier neighborhoods like the Upper West Side and Upper East Side.

Aerial view of Manhattan with a dot and sign indicating forest

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According to Van Middelem, the estimated cost for the tiny forest in Roosevelt Island is $54,000, calculated at approximately $200 per 10 square feet. The forest will be planted in an unused leased garden space from the city. Over 300 volunteers have signed up so far, and the planting is planned for April 6th.

Source: theguardian.com