Tiny forest

About tiny forests

A tiny forest or mini-forest is a forest with min 600 trees, and the surface of a tennis court (from 250m² to ca 600m²). It is interesting to create such mini-forests in cities, gardens and playgrounds - such small forests, densely planted with native trees, must meet a number of strict conditions regarding soil preparation, amount of planting (when laying 3 trees per m²) and the involvement of children and of the neighbourhood, thus bringing people together in a green and healthy environment. Such small urban forests provide ecosystem services, greening of the environment, habitats and stepping stones for biodiversity.

The Tiny Forest concept is being implemented in Belgium by IVN natuureducatie - the Dutch organization that introduced the concept in the Netherlands - and GoodPlanet. The first Belgian Tiny Forests were planted in the spring of 2020 in Schoten and Forest, in collaboration with local schools and residents.

Indian engineer Shubhendu Sharma (CEO of Afforestt) is behind the Tiny Forest concept. It is based on the 'forestry method' of Japanese tree expert Akira Miyawaki. In the 1970s, he developed a method for restoring natural, indigenous forests. He created over 1,700 forests, 96.7% of which became a resilient ecosystem in just ten years. Shubhendu Sharma was inspired by Miyawaki's approach and has translated the method into an urban environment.

Characteristics of tiny forests

The basic characteristics are that a Tiny Forest is a dense, indigenous forest with an area of ​​approximately 200 m²; for private individuals an area of ​​about 100 m² is sufficient. The shape of the forest may vary, but the grove should not be less than 4 meters wide at any point, without being interrupted by a path or the like. During construction, 3 trees must be planted per square meter, which equates to an average total of 600 trees for a surface of 250m².

The planting must be composed of at least 25 different types of trees and shrubs, exclusively native to the region, and these must be able to grow undisturbed for at least 10 years. A minimum of 6 inches (15 cm) of mulch is required and the Tiny Forest should be fenced off for the first two years to protect the young plantings. No further conditions are set for tiny forest planting on private land.

Additional social conditions are set for Tiny Forests in public spaces, such as:

• The initiative is taken by a local volunteer or volunteers.

• There is space near the forest for 30 children to sit

• Local residents and children are involved in the planting.

• The forest is adopted by a primary school or childcare center in the area and they also use it at least monthly for outdoor activities.

A forest for Jane

In collaboration with Goodplanet Belgium, students from Basisschool Sint-Augustinus in Brakel participated in a tree planting event to establish a Tiny Forest in honor of Jane's 90th Birthday.

Through this initiative, the students not only planted trees but also assumed the role of official stewards, or "rangers," of the forest. Additionally, they received workshops on the significance of trees and forests, further solidifying their dedication to preserving and caring for this precious natural resource.