Volunteers help transform land by planting micro forest
A new “micro forest” sprang-up in Warwick at the weekend as volunteers toiled for eight hours to transform a stretch of land by the roadside into a kaleidoscope of colour.
The Bermuda Zoological Society spearheaded the project, and with backing from the Department of Parks, the Warwick Playground initiative adopted the Miyawaki method of planting a dense native and endemic forest in tight areas of land.
The BZS wants to expand the project across the island, fitting plants into backyards, school playgrounds, roadsides, and public parks.
Organisers say this will allow them to quickly develop as natural forests, becoming maintenance-free after the first three years.
The BZS said that micro forests are intended to have high plant intensity, including some beneficial weeds in the mix.
The method abandons a formal planting arrangement in favour of an unkempt wild look to shade out invasive elements and provide habitat for bees and butterflies.
Ultimately, the native and endemics will thrive at their different canopy levels which will help crowd out invasive plants and reduce the need for maintenance over time.
Trevor Rawson, of the BZS, told The Royal Gazette: “The concept is you take a small area of land and you increase the amount of planting underneath it. So, you are really densing your native plantings. We are really doubling down on the number of plants we are bringing in here.
“Bringing the plantings closer together so they can keep with themselves, thus stopping any invasives moving in.
“We are planting upwards of 200 plants so, that’s quite a few plants on the 214 square foot plot.
“We did have quite a bit of rain over the last few days and that has softened all the soil.
“We have 12 native species that we are putting in right now and there is opportunity to add more as time goes on.
“It is an experiment, so it is good to see this style being tried out in Bermuda.
“The micro forest is picking that small dense portion of land and planting as many as possible plants as we can in there, while they are also supporting themselves to create a forest.”
The Bermuda Zoological Society was joined by its Junior Volunteers, members of the BZS Science Club, individuals from the Government of Bermuda’s Department of Parks, employees from the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo and corporate volunteers from RenaissanceRe and Aspen Re to plant the second plot for the BZS Micro Forest Project.
RenaissanceRe pledged $25,000 to support such projects over the next three years, with other companies joining them, such as Aspen Re and AEOLUS Capital Management.