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Cambridge City Council

Cambridge's first public 'Tiny Forest' being planted in East Chesterton

24 March 2022

A NATURE-RICH ‘Tiny Forest’ is being planted in Cambridge this weekend to provide a new space for wildlife and contribute to mitigating climate change – and residents are being invited to come along and join in. 

The Tiny Forest being created at Five Trees, between Lents Way and Cheney Way in East Chesterton, is a collaboration between Cambridge City Council and the environmental charity Earthwatch Europe.  

The planting event on Saturday 26 March from 10am-3pm is free to attend and open to all ages to drop in between these times to see what is happening and to lend a hand. The event forms part of Earthwatch Europe’s programme to plant over a hundred ‘Tiny Forests' across the UK by 2023, to boost biodiversity and help tackle climate change on a local level. 

Tiny Forests are dense, fast-growing, native woodlands about the size of a tennis court, planted with about 600 trees to provide an attractive location for wildlife and local people, and a range of benefits in the fight against climate change. 

The planting method encourages accelerated forest development without using chemicals or fertilisers. It also provides a biodiversity rich habitat which is capable of attracting more than 500 animal and plant species in its first three years, with low management and maintenance requirements. 

Once planted, local volunteers will act as ‘Tree Keepers’ to help the Tiny Forest flourish and scientifically monitor the environmental and social benefits it can offer, including its heat and flood-reduction capacities, its effect on biodiversity and carbon capture, and how it impacts on the wellbeing of local people using the open space. 

Cllr Alex Collis, Executive Councillor for Open Spaces, Sustainable Food and Community Wellbeing, said: “This is such an exciting project to be part of – it offers a wonderful opportunity for people in East Chesterton and beyond to get involved with making a difference to their local environment, boosting wildlife on their doorstep and playing a part in the city’s effort to reduce the impact of climate change.” 

Louise Hartley, Tiny Forest Programme Manager at Earthwatch Europe, said: “Tiny Forest provides rich opportunities for connecting young and old alike with the environment and sustainability. It’s vital that we give people the knowledge and skills to protect our natural world and inspire them to take positive action. We are delighted to be working with Cambridge City Council to bring one of these inspiring spaces to East Chesterton in Cambridge.” 

The new Tiny Forest forms part of the council’s ongoing work on the Cambridge Canopy Project which is extending Cambridge’s urban forest through a number of approaches, including: 

 - Planting 2,000 trees on council-owned land including 33 new trees planted on Parker’s Piece this winter. 

 - Distributing approximately 1,500 trees to residents through the council’s Free Trees for Babies scheme and targeted ‘Neighbourhood Canopy Campaigns’  

 - Working with residents and businesses to plant 12,500 trees in gardens and on other privately-owned land. 

The over-arching aim of the Canopy Project is to increase the city’s tree canopy cover from 17% to 19% by 2050. Strategic use of trees in urban settings helps tackle climate change, makes our towns and cities more resilient for the future, and can bring about a number of positive benefits to residents and visitors, including: 

 - Provision of shade and shelter from the sun and wind 

 - Active cooling of the air around them 

 - Alleviation of flooding by slowing rainfall, increasing percolation to ground water, and through the uptake of water 

 - Reduction of noise and filtration of air pollutants. 

Currently there are more than 300,000 trees across the city of Cambridge, 30,000 of these are on council-owned or managed land. The majority of trees in Cambridge are situated on privately-owned land, for example in household gardens and in University college grounds. 

The Cambridge Canopy Project is part of a wider European initiative called Nature Smart Cities across the 2 Seas which aims to help communities adapt to climate change and increase the amount of green infrastructure in participating cities. It also forms part of the council’s response to declaring both climate and biodiversity emergencies.