Our partner Earthwatch Europe is seeking expressions of interest from healthcare sites who would like to establish a Tiny Forest on or near their grounds. 

What is a Tiny Forest?

A Tiny Forest is a dense, fast-growing native woodland, the size of a tennis court. It is based on an established forest management method developing in the 1970s by Japanese botanist Dr Akira Miyawaki. Tiny Forest brings the benefits of a forest – connecting people with nature, raising awareness of the environment, helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change, as well as supporting urban wildlife – right into the heart of our cities and urban spaces.

600 native trees will be planted in this compact space, which can include a range of features including paths and rest areas. It can be a great spot to watch wildlife as a Tiny Forest is capable of attracting over 500 animal and plant species within just three years, including ground-living invertebrates, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Growing a Tiny Forest on your healthcare site supports the NHS ambition to reach Net Zero. Since 2009, the NHS Forest has planted over 96,000 trees across 290 NHS sites, in the form of hedgerows, orchards, memorial trees, restored woodlands and more. Tiny Forest is a way to add a large number of trees to your site – supporting biodiversity, improving air quality, boosting wellbeing, and storing carbon.

Tiny Forest on NHS sites

Tiny Forest planting day at West Berkshire Community Hospital
Tiny Forest planting day at West Berkshire Community Hospital. Photo: Earthwatch Europe. All rights reserved
Ben Williams of Earthwatch Europe plants a tree in Littlemore Hospital's Tiny Forest
Ben Williams of Earthwatch Europe plants a tree in Littlemore Hospital’s Tiny Forest. Photo: Carey Newson / Centre for Sustainable Healthcare 2021. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

The first Tiny Forest on an NHS Forest site was planted at West Berkshire Community Hospital in November 2021. Paul Harrison, Sustainability Manager at Berkshire Healthcare said about their Tiny Forest:

“Since the pandemic started, it’s been even more important to provide spaces for patients to safely meet their families, or to just get off the ward, take off the masks, and breathe some fresh air. We’ve been wanting to make use of this space for some time, and I’m excited to see it develop in this way that ticks so many boxes – the Tiny Forest will benefit patients, staff, visitors and the local environment.” 

You can watch the Tiny Forest planting day video here.

In February 2021 another Tiny Forest was planted at Littlemore Mental Health Centre in Oxford. Read more about their Tiny Forest here, and watch the video from their planting day.

Dr Nick Broughton, Chief Executive Oxford Health, said: 

“I think [the Tiny Forest is] going to have a really positive impact for our patients. There are a number of wards on this site where we have a number of long stay patients. We know that outdoor spaces have a really positive therapeutic impact on patient care. We also know that it’s really important for the local communities who are very close to us and work very closely with us. This will improve the environment, it will attract wildlife and it will improve the quality of air, so I think all-round this is a fantastic initiative for everyone living, working and being cared for on this site.”

At these sites, Earthwatch hosts science days to monitor the Tiny Forest. The science day at the Littlemore Tiny Forest will take place on 18 July 2022. Service users from the mental health centre and pupils with special educational needs from the neighbouring Warneford Hospital School will help monitor the progress of their Tiny Forest and the increase in biodiversity it attracts.

Tiny Forest planting day at Littlemore Mental Health Centre
Tiny Forest planting day at Littlemore Mental Health Centre. Photo: Earthwatch Europe. All rights reserved

Request your own Tiny Forest

NHS Forest sites that would like to plant their own Tiny Forest are invited to register their interest. Earthwatch can provide full support during the process, including site assessments and matching sites with funding. The ideal sites will:

As well as planting the trees, Earthwatch works with local stakeholders to establish a Tree Keeper Team who can help to look after the forest. The team also collects data to support national research on how this approach to tree planting can help biodiversity, carbon capture, water retention, ambient temperature and thermal comfort, in the face of a changing climate.

If you would like further information on Tiny Forest, or to register interest in establishing one on your healthcare site, please contact Ben Williams: bwilliams@earthwatch.org.uk

Banner photo: Tiny Forest planting day at Littlemore Mental Health Centre. Earthwatch Europe, all rights reserved

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