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What is a tiny forest?

Tiny forests are popular in Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. They are meant for urban settings where they grow quickly, rapidly fix carbon, provide cooling shade and create mini biodiversity hotspots. Also known as Miyawaki forests, tiny forests seedlings are planted at high density on enriched soils to support rapid growth.

We know of only one other tiny forest in Ohio, and there are very few in the US, but they will likely grow in number! 

The Miyawaki method typically involves amending the soil with nutrients to promote rapid growth and root development.  Plants of similar size are planted to minimize dominance, and plants are chosen for their value in the ecosystem, fast growth, flexible requirements, and many species are used to promote biodiversity.

A tiny forest needs some care for the first few years, but after that, it can support itself and weather droughts and escape most herbivores.  Plants will grow fast and tall to reach the sun and simulate a dense forest with multiple layers faster than would occur naturally. Over many years, some species will give way to others just like in natural forest succession.

Our tiny forest was installed by a dedicated group of students from the Spring Urban Ecosystem Research Class (BIOL/EVST 4093).  Though tiny forests are meant for urban areas,  this one was installed at the UC Field Center alongside other agricultural and management examples as public demonstrations of various restoration and management methods. 

Our goal is to learn more about how to implement the Miyawaki method in Cincinnati area. One challenge of our area is the clay rich soil. Another challenge is to reduce herbivory when plan ts are small and vulnerable. Field Center Interns help with these early stages.

Below you can see two student posters on the project here, with details of the construction, species chosen for planting, and soil preparation.


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