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Innovative mini forests set to spring up in Norfolk thanks to council collaboration

Norfolk County Council, 2 February 2022 00:00

The 1 Million Trees for Norfolk project is set to get a boost this spring as the planting of five mini forests gets underway.

Innovative, tennis court size, Miyawaki forests are being trialled for the first time in Norfolk which will follow a tree planting approach developed by Japanese botanist Dr Akira Miyawaki.

Five of Norfolk's councils are joining forces to make the planting of the Miyawaki forests possible, with the project led by Norfolk County Council, working alongside North Norfolk District Council, Broadland District Council, Sprowston Town Council and Hellesdon Parish Council.

Cllr Andy Grant, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste, said: "It's wonderful to be working together with local councils to get this exciting scheme off the ground. This is a carbon cutting and forward-looking scheme as trees in Miyawaki forests tend to grow faster and absorb more carbon than conventional woodlands. Two thousand six hundred trees are set to be planted in this project which will help us find better ways to get more trees growing and surviving within the urban environment."

Trees will start to go into the ground in February and it is hoped it may be possible to involve schools, conservation groups and the local community at each of the planting sites.

One side of each of the new forest sites will be planted following the Miyawaki approach which will see dense planting of lots of different species of native trees, into healthy, aerated soil. This method was developed for tropical places, so the project will help show if this method works here in Norfolk.

The other half of each site will be planted following standard planting practice, which means that fewer trees are planted overall, and no supplements will be added to the soil. Over the years each of the sites will be carefully monitored to learn whether the innovative planting technique brings greater success than the conventional planting.

Cllr. Lloyd, Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services, Climate Change & the Environment, said: "These mini urban forests are an innovative way of improving local bio-diversity by creating new eco-systems in small pockets of land. The fast-growing nature of this tree planting method will mean that people will see the benefits within only a few years.

"In bringing this concept to some of our green spaces, we create new amenity value for our residents whilst helping to combat climate change. I hope people enjoy them. If you have a piece of land in North Norfolk that you wish to plant some trees, we can help. Please contact our tree planting team at"

Broadland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Environmental Excellence, Judy Leggett said: "We are very excited to be part of this innovative project. There are huge benefits to planting Miyawaki forests, including flood mitigation, increased biodiversity and greater absorption of CO2. They are also said to grow 10 times faster than a normal woodland, so it will be fascinating to follow the results. As well as the environmental benefits, the trees will also help improve community spaces and encourage greater wellbeing for our residents."

John Ward, Sprowston Town Mayor, said: "I am delighted that Sprowston has been chosen as one of the 5 locations for a Miyawaki Mini Forest. This is part of our pledge to support Norfolk County Council in its One Million Tree Planting initiative. A suitable area has been designated for the mini forest at our Recreation Ground and I am sure it will be a source of great interest to Sprowston residents to watch it grow and develop."

The project is part of the Trees Outside Woodlands project, funded by HM Treasury and is running in partnership with Defra, Natural England and The Tree Council.

Find out more about the 1 Million Trees for Norfolk project including support for planting trees, how to get involved with community planting and events across Norfolk.

Further information

Miyawaki forest sites - 400 trees will be planted at each of the smaller sites, 700 at each of the larger sites:

  • Sheringham, Cooper's Road (400m2 site) - working with North Norfolk District Council to plant on their land
  • Fakenham, Warren Avenue (200m2 site) - working with North Norfolk District Council to plant on their land
  • North Walsham, Acorn Road (200m2 site) - working with North Norfolk District Council to plant on their land
  • Sprowston Recreation Ground (200m2 site) - working with Sprowston Town Council to plant on their land
  • Hellesdon Recreation Ground - working with Hellesdon Parish Council to plant on their land - (exact site details to be confirmed)

The 1 Million Trees for Norfolk project

The 1 Million Trees for Norfolk project grew from a motion that was brought to Full Council by Cllr Sandra Squire on Monday 25 November 2019. Full Council agreed to the motion to add the following to Norfolk Count Council's 25-year environment policy: Council resolves to build on its new Environmental Policy which acknowledges that trees are a vital source in help combating climate change alongside rewilding for Carbon sequestration. Therefore this council agrees to work with communities, landowners and partners to plant 1 million trees over 5 years which must amount to a net increase around Norfolk which will not only reduce carbon levels but will also benefit wildlife and provide valuable green space to improve the lives of Norfolk residents for years to come.

What is a Miyawaki Forest?

A Miyawaki Forest is a planting technique that can quickly establish an urban forest ecosystem. The method involves careful soil preparation and densely planting a range of native woodland plants that are beneficial to wildlife, on an area usually around the size of a tennis court.

  • Trees in a Miyawaki forest grow up to ten times faster than trees planted in conventional woodland planting schemes at around one metre per year.
  • Miyawaki forests absorb more carbon than conventional woodland schemes because they grow more quickly and are more densely planted.

Which species will be planted?

A wide range of native plant species will be planted, with the aim of creating an ecosystem rich in biodiversity. Species will be selected from four groups in order to create 'layers' of differing heights, with a small number of species selected making up around 40% of the total planting.

Last modified: 25 June 2024 15:43

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