Tiny Forests help climate-proof city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch
The city of ’s-Hertogenbosch is planting four Tiny Forests . A Tiny Forest, a concept developed by nature organisation IVN, is a small, dense forest the size of a tennis court. The mini forest features some forty indigenous plant species, such as willow, birch, oak, hazel, and rowan berry trees. Among other benefits, it helps to combat the impact of climate change in a neighbourhood.
A Tiny Forest offers many advantages in urban environments. Not only is it good for children to have access to nature in the middle of a city, such forests are also conducive to residents’ health and they enhance the area’s biodiversity. The density of the Tiny Forests precludes people walking through, which gives wildlife a better opportunity to settle in. In addition, such a miniature forest can improve a neighbourhood’s climate resilience. For example, the forests collect large volumes of rainwater in extreme weather conditions, they retain water during periods of drought, they purify the air, and combat heat stress.
The city of ’s-Hertogenbosch has embarked on the construction of its first miniature forest. Other locations in the city will follow suit before long. According to urban ecologist Johan Mees, garnering support for nature in the neighbourhood is of paramount importance. Maintenance of the Tiny Forest is in the collective hands of local residents and schools. The IVN organisation is going to provide lessons for school children in the Tiny Forests. Local children will be trained as Wild Rangers and help take care of the forest.
Lessons to be learned from the project
Project leader Johan Mees has noticed that the selection of a Tiny Forest location plays a key role in the success of the project. The IVN supports the projects by providing a project leader and a grant, but the municipal authorities must take the lead in garnering support among residents and schools. His advice to other municipalities is: allow sufficient time for this process. In order to protect the Tiny Forest from dog pooh and vandalism, he recommends putting up a friendly fence for the first year.