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Wellness & Nature

One Of The UK’s Rarest Trees Is Being Planted In A New ‘Tiny Forest’ In Bristol

Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd - Staff Writer

One Of The UK’s Rarest Trees Is Being Planted In A New ‘Tiny Forest’ In Bristol

The tree will be one of 1,280 trees being planted in the tennis court-sized space.

A lot of things have become rare lately- going to the pub, getting a haircut, finding a pack of toilet roll on the supermarket shelf, having a social life- but something which is becoming increasingly rare is the black poplar tree. Native to the UK, this tree is now in decline as only around 7,000 of this tree species are growing in the wild and only 600 of these are female trees, according to the Woodland Trust.

However, this rare hardwood tree is one of 1,280 trees being planted in the ‘tiny forest’, an area the size of a small tennis court, in Southmead, Bristol. What was once ridden in rubbish, including motorbikes and furniture, has now been cleared by local volunteers to create the city’s first ‘tiny forest’, as part of the Trym Valley Open Space Regeneration.

The aim of this project is not only to plant this rare poplar tree, located on the River Trym’s bank, but also bring back trout to the waterway. Black poplars typically like to grow in wet, boggy areas, such as near ditches and flood plains, and are really valuable when it comes to boosting wildlife habitats.

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Credit: Bristol City Council

Tiny forests are based on woodland management methods which were developed in the 1970s by the Japanese botanist, Akira Miyawaki, where many different species are planted closely together in urban areas. The first UK tiny forest was planted in Witney, Oxfordshire in March last year.

Earthwatch Europe, an environmental charity who help to set up ‘tiny forests’, said this type of planting method “encourages accelerated forest development”, offers a rich biodiversity which is “capable of attracting over 500 animal and plant species within the first three years”. The tiny forests are said to bring plenty of benefits both for the community, our wellbeing as well help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

According to Bristol City Council, the area, just planted off Doncaster Road, will be one of a string of such projects across the UK featuring trees ranging from mighty oaks to birch, elder, blackthorn and guelder rose. Over the next three years, the ambition is to plant more than 100 tiny forests, with spots already earmarked in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester and Glasgow.

In order to start work on the tiny forest in Bristol, Sustainable Southmead has been carrying out a number of litter picks across the tennis court-sized space. The action group have so far created a community orchard with pears, apples, cherries and plum trees planted up on the plateau, and will also continue to clear the area for planting this month.

Read more: House Plants Can Help Alleviate The Stress Of Lockdown, Study Finds