Goldthorpe is to be home to Yorkshire’s first Tiny Forest as part of Barnsley Council’s work to achieve net zero carbon emissions.
Through the forest, we hope to connect people to nature and raise awareness of the climate challenges, and solutions that nature can provide
A Tiny Forest is a very small, densely planted forest about the size of a tennis court. Earthwatch Europe is pioneering the initiative in the UK, using a forestry management technique developed in Japan by Dr Miyawaki in the 1970s. By encouraging the trees to grow in tightly packed formation, fighting each other for sunlight and nutrients, they will grow ten times faster than a traditional forest.
Goldthorpe’s Tiny Forest will be located within the Brickyard Ponds site at Goldthorpe and work is due to be complete before the end of March. It’s part of Barnsley Council’s work to achieve net zero carbon emissions across Barnsley by 2045, meaning carbon emissions are reduced to as close to zero as possible, and any remaining emission are offset through carbon capture techniques such as tree planting.
The speed Tiny Forests grow and their dense planting allow them to absorb more carbon than monoculture (planting trees of one species) or other more traditional tree planting schemes over the same area. While their modest size means they cannot achieve carbon offsetting by themselves, they are a great way to engage people in the natural world, and through science, better understand the role small urban forests play in developing towns and cities in which people and nature can thrive.
The Goldthorpe Tiny Forest will be made up of 600 trees of a mixture of native species and will be 30 times denser than a traditionally planted forest. As well as breathing oxygen into our air and absorbing carbon, the new dense green space, which will be chemical and fertiliser free and a haven for biodiversity, will be a pleasant space for the public to enjoy. It will have low management requirements, becoming maintenance free after three years.
Astrea Academy Dearne is a key partner in the project and students will be helping design the layout of the Tiny Forest, while learning about the importance of restoring forests to address climate change at the same time.
Local volunteers will be asked to form a Keeper Group who will help look after the forest while it becomes established and there will be a wider education and community engagement project to help us learn as much as possible from the project.
The project is part of the Towns Fund scheme, through which Goldthorpe has been invited to bid for more than £25m investment to boost the area’s growth potential. Tiny Forest Goldthorpe is one of a number of kickstart schemes already approved under the Towns Fund.
Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “Our Tiny Forest project is hugely exciting because of the speed it will become established. Within weeks it will be a beautiful addition to the landscape at Goldthorpe’s Brickyard Ponds and within its first four years it will already be contributing benefits to local communities and our environment. For example, we expect the Tiny Forest to help attract local biodiversity and contribute to mitigating urban flooding from rainfall.
“It will also enable people to connect with nature in their local area and by working with Astrea Dearne Academy it will help our young people learn about climate change.”
Astrea Academy Dearne has excellent links with its community and has already worked closely with the council, including on the Embankment Project which focused on improving the environment around disused railway cuttings.
Vicky Conway, Vice Principal, said that in addition to academic success, developing life skills and preparing pupils for life beyond school in an ever-evolving society is also a key priority.
“As a school we have successfully gained a national award in recognition of our successful learners and their involvement in the local community such as in our work with the Dearne area team.
“We are now extremely excited for our next adventure at making an impact not only on a local scale, but contributing to positive steps that will impact our environment on a global front through the Tiny Forest project.”
Goldthorpe’s Tiny Forest will be monitored to keep track of the carbon it absorbs, the biodiversity and air quality benefits and this will add to the bank of research around the benefits of Tiny Forests in climates like ours.
Anyone interested in becoming part of the Keeper Team and learning more about the project should send an email to TinyForests@barnsley.gov.uk.