1 Feb 2021

New Zealand's first microforest

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:45 pm on 1 February 2021

A group in Nelson are creating a micro forest.

Colin Davis and AJ Clarken decided to embark on the Nelson Whakatu Microforest Initiative after hearing about the micro forest movement spreading around the world.

The movement is inspired by a Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. 

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Photo: Nelson Whakatu Microforest Initiative

Miyawaki has produced about 1000 micro forests in Japan, Colin says.

“They are basically taking a very small patch of land, down to about 30 square meters, analysing the soil, enhancing the soil and then picking about 30 or 40 native species, native to that particular geographical area, to plant in that small area.

“It is planted very densely and very randomly so that according to Miyawaki it’s the natural way in which a native forest develops.”

Such forests grow very quickly, he says.

“It extracts carbon from the atmosphere 30 times more effectively than if you were just planting individual trees around your section.”

Climate change mitigation is the basic thinking behind the micro forest movement, he says.

The forest is between Nelson and Stoke, he says, on old pasture land that belonged to the SPCA.

It’s quite hilly land and doesn’t have trees at the moment.

Nelson Council which supports the project financially produces a booklet on native trees and plants which has guided their planting decisions.

“We are coastal hillside, so all the natives that are traditionally in that area are from that list.”

He says the key difference between his project and others is the use of bio char to enrich the soil.

At this stage most of their work is to do with making bio char which he says is very growth supporting.

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