Tiny forests to take root in three north Norfolk towns

North Norfolk District councillor, Nigel Lloyd, with some of the trees being given away at Holt Coun

North Norfolk District councillor, Nigel Lloyd, at a tree giveaway. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2022

Fast-growing 'tiny' forests which could be the key to tackling climate change are to take root in three north Norfolk towns. 

The so-called Miyawaki forests can grow up to 10 times as fast as traditional forests due to methods including close planting, meaning strong competition among trees to claim a place in the sun of the forest canopy. 

Undated handout photo issued by Earthwatch of someone helping plant a "Tiny Forest". The UK is to ge

File photo of a Miyawaki 'tiny forest' being planted. Norfolk is to get several of the fast-growing forests, including three in north Norfolk towns. - Credit: Earthwatch

North Norfolk District Council has joined forces with several other authorities on the project, which will see forests planted at Warren Avenue in Fakenham, Acorn Road playing field in North Walsham and Cooper Road play area in Sheringham.

Annie Sommazzi, NNDC's climate and environmental policy manager, said: “The Miyawaki method has been developed specifically for small pockets of land in urban environments.

File photo of a Miyawaki 'tiny forest' being planted. Norfolk is to get several of the fast-growing forests

File photo of a Miyawaki 'tiny forest' being planted. Norfolk is to get several of the fast-growing forests, including three in north Norfolk towns. - Credit: Earthwatch

"Existing Miyawaki forests have proven to be incredibly effective at delivering big results for both local communities and local wildlife."

Ms Sommazzi said small forests using traditional planting methods would be planted next to the Miyawaki forests so the differences in growth could be examined.

She said: "The progress of these new urban forests can be closely monitored and will hopefully pave the way for this method extending both in North Norfolk, and across other local authorities”.

Annie Sommazzi, climate and environmental policy manager at North Norfolk District Council.

Annie Sommazzi, climate and environmental policy manager at North Norfolk District Council. - Credit: NNDC

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Around 2,6000 trees will be planted in the project, which also includes sites for new forests in Hellesdon and Sprowston. 

The forests are named after their pioneer, Japanese botanist Dr Akira Miyawaki, , and they are usually around the size of a tennis court.

They are able to grow into stable, multi-layered forests within 20-30 years rather than hundreds of years.

Nigel Lloyd, the council's portfolio holder for the environment, said people with a small piece of land which they wanted to develop into a micro-forest could also get involved by emailing treeplantingproject@north-norfolk.gov.uk.

Mr Lloyd said: "These small urban forests are an innovative way of improving local biodiversity 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."

The planting is part of the UK Government's Shared Outcomes Fund - Trees Outside Woodlands project, and is funded by Defra, and is in partnership with the Tree Council.