24.08.2021 00:00 Age: 24 days

A tiny-forest in the middle of the city

Category: Campus, Top-News

Tiny Forests - miniature forests in in the middle of a city - can offer more biodiversity, a shady and cooling microclimate, and a green ambience for recreation and social engagement in urban areas. Hence, “Forestry and Resource Management” students at the TUM School of Life Sciences in Weihenstephan have taken up the challenge of creating such a forest for a bachelor’s project and are working out the basics for one to be located in Hallbergmoos.

Forestry students develop concept for Tiny Forest.

Students work in four project groups to create the concept for a mini-forest (Image: Tim Horsch)

Tiny Forests have already been created in several countries

The idea of the Tiny Forest originally came from the Japanese botanist and forest scientist Akira Miyawaki.  He came up with the idea of the Tiny Forest and thus launched a new type of urban greening. His concept has led to Tiny Forests being developed in the Netherlands as well as several other countries. Students at the Eberswalde University of Applied Sciences have set up Germany’s first Tiny Forest on private plot of land.

Now, the idea has been taken up in a bachelor’s project supervised by Professor Michael Suda from the Department of Forest and Environmental Policy and Professor Monika Egerer from the Department of Forest and Environmental Policy at the TUM.

Professor Egerer explains, “ A “Tiny Forest”,  a forest about the size of a tennis court, can provide an enormous amount of biodiversity both in terms of plant and animal life.”  The compact planting method provides a perfect habitat for a variety of trees, shrubs, and insect species, while also providing many benefits for humans.  For example, “the microclimate created cools the environment, provides shade, and brings some nature back into the cityscape.  This creates spaces for recreation and social engagement” notes Professor Michael Suda.

Students strive to involve the local population

The students were divided into four project groups. While the communication group takes care of public relations, the planning group already took first soil samples to select suitable plants for the small forest. The remaining students are responsible for involving the community members and, with the help of a questionnaire, surveyed the needs, knowledge, opinions and attitudes of the community members about green spaces and biodiversity.

In order to closely involve the citizens in the planning process of the "Tiny Forest" from the very beginning, the students also answered the questions of the population at an on-site appointment in June and provided information about the goals of the project.

Tiny forest grows ten times faster than a conventional forest

“Since a Tiny Forest can be created in a very small area, there are many potential locations that could be used.  Possible sites include public green spaces, school yards, fallow areas on company premises, and private land,” states Tim Horsch,  a forestry student at the TUM School of life Sciences.  In addition, a Tiny Forest grows up to 10 times faster than a conventional forest. Once the forest is planted, it needs to be watered occasionally and accompanying vegetation must be managed for a maximum of three years. This then results in a self-sustaining, stable mini-ecosystem.

In Hallbergmoos, a site behind the town hall has been selected. Currently, the students are waiting for approval from the Hallbergmoos town council.  If the council votes in favor of the project, the first trees could be planted by a landscaping company in the spring of 2022.

Editing:
Susanne Neumann
TUM School of Life Sciences
Press and Public Relations
Mail: susanne.neumann[at]tum.de
Phone: + 49 8161.71.3207

Scientific contact:
Prof. Monika Egerer
TUM School of Life Sciences
Professorship for Urban Productive Ecosystems
Mail: monika.egerer[at]tum.de
Phone: +49 8161.71.4756