Tiny Forests and the Rewilding Revolution

rewilding and Tiny Forests
Rewilding as a concept is nothing new. The term was coined by Dave Foreman a member of the grassroots network Earth First! and founder of The Rewilding Institute, appearing in print by 1990. The concept was further defined by conservation biologists Michael Soulé and Reed Noss in a paper published in 1998.  Rewilding in its most general form is a “comprehensive, often large-scale, conservation effort focused on restoring sustainable biodiversity and ecosystem health by protecting core wild or wilderness areas…
But with 68% of the population expected to be living in and around cities by 2050 that vision is beginning to be realized more specifically in major cities around the world in the shape of the urban rewilding movement.

What is Urban Rewilding?

The idea of urban rewilding is a low cost, hands off approach to greening areas of our towns and cities to reduce pollution levels and encourage biodiversity and ecological resilience in the face of population growth and rapid climate change.  Urban rewilding, it is hoped, could also to re-engage a disconnected public with nature, essential if we are to change the way people interact with the world around them.
A recent report by the Zoological Society of London says spaces like private gardens, green spaces owned by councils, businesses and religious groups and public spaces including parks, urban waterways and wetlands, as well as less obvious areas such as railways, are prime areas where rewilding could be implemented at a scale big enough to make a difference:
…the strategic deployment of rewilding initiatives across the urban landscape can help urban ecosystems recover multiple ecological processes and interactions, including trophic interactions; boost a number of ecosystem functions; and increase overall ecosystem resilience

So How Do We Actually Do Rewilding?

Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki is one of the forefathers of the urban rewilding movement. According to the European Platform for Urban Greening He set about a program of restoring Japan’s natural forestry at small sites across the country, using indigenous soil and plants;
“In many cases the results were spectacular: rapid growth of dense and diverse ecosystems.”

This unexpected success provided the inspiration for Indian engineer Shubhendu Sharma who translated this into what is known as Tiny Forest concept.

The Tiny Forest Concept

A Tiny Forest is a dense native mini-forest about the size of a tennis court. With Sharma’s help the Dutch Institute for Environmental Education  have established more than 250 “Tiny Forests” in Dutch urban locations such as roadsides, business parks and schools.
There is minimal interference once the plants and trees have been seeded. Over time ecosystems develop that take on lives of their own. The forests also serve as small carbon sinks, each capturing an average of 127.5 kilograms of CO2 per year, which could double as the forest matures. They also provide a cooling effect. Researchers found soil temperatures were up to 20 degrees Celsius lower than on nearby streets.
Daan Bleichrodt, chief tree planting officer at IVN

Recent research shows that children who spent a lot of time in nature, grow up to be healthy, happy and creative adults, that want to contribute to society. This alone must be reason enough to green our cities and urban environments as much as we can.


CNN’s Urban rewilding is bringing wildlife to the heart of cities

BBC’s  People Fixing the World by Richard Kenny and Anna Holligan.

IVN’s  Tiny Forests Project

European Platform for Urban Greening

Please contact us if you have an urban greening or rewilding project you need help with. and we are always happy to offer advice and estimates and have many years experience. For information on our Urban Greening Services click here
Tiny Forests image courtesy of EPUG