Greening Manhattan: The Rise of Tiny Forests in Urban Landscapes

The Manhattan Healing Forest will see the planting of 1,000 native plants on an area of ​​just 2,700 square meters to stabilize the soil through roots and absorb excess water

In the heart of Manhattan, a groundbreaking initiative is taking root that could transform the way we think about urban greening. The Manhattan Healing Forest, a pioneering project slated for the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, signals a bold step forward in the global trend of integrating tiny forests composed of native plants for environmental benefits. Spearheaded by the non-profit organization iDig2Learn, this endeavor is not just about planting trees; it’s a testament to the power of nature in tackling pressing environmental challenges.

The global trend of tiny forests

Tiny forests, dense plantings of native trees and shrubs, have been gaining traction worldwide as an effective strategy for enhancing biodiversity, combating climate change, and addressing urban environmental issues. The Manhattan Healing Forest project stands as a monumental example of this movement’s arrival in Manhattan. By planting 1,000 native trees and shrubs over a mere 3,229 square meters, the initiative aims to create a lush, self-sustaining ecosystem in the midst of the urban jungle.

Christina Delfico, founder of iDig2Learn, emphasizes the significance of this approach in addressing environmental adversities like flooding and storm surges.

“We’re an island. Think about the floods, the storm surges, and the best treatment is planting a tree. The roots will stabilize the ground. With good soil, there won’t be any floods. The concrete jungle needs pocket forests.”

The forests become self-sustaining within a few years

The foundation of the Manhattan Healing Forest is the Miyawaki method, a planting technique developed by Japanese botanist and plant ecologist Akira Miyawaki. This method, which led Miyawaki to receive the prestigious Blue Planet Prize in 2006 for his efforts in restoring forest ecosystems, involves the close planting of native trees and shrubs in soil enriched with compost and mulch. As a result, Miyawaki-style forests quickly become self-sustaining and mature within decades.

These forests not only provide habitats for insects and wildlife, absorb carbon, and purify the air but also promote biodiversity and combat climate change. The Manhattan Healing Forest, to be located in Southpoint Park on previously unused land, embodies these principles. Its planting, scheduled for April 6th, will engage community volunteers, marking an innovative step in sustainable urban design.

By establishing the Manhattan Healing Forest, Manhattan joins cities around the world in adopting the concept of tiny forests to promote environmental health and urban well-being. This initiative reflects a growing recognition of the importance of nature in urban settings, offering a model for future green projects.

Manhattan Embraces the Tiny Forest Movement


Source: Manhattan Healing Forest

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