Wednesday, 31 March 2021 08:36

Urban forests: A solution to Europe’s forestry problem?

A mini urban forest of 100 square metres is big enough to plant 15 to 30 tree types and recreate the ecosystem of a full-scale forest, according to Nicolas de Brabandère, founder of the Belgian company, Urban Forest. EURACTIV France reports.

“There is all this interaction between the soil and the roots. The plants that spontaneously colonise the undergrowth and grow around it. The insects that come to feed and live in this space. The birds that come to make their nests. “said de Brabandère.

“Biodiversity will not be on the same scale as in a large forest. We won’t see wolves or deer,” the founder of Urban Forests acknowledged, adding, however, that this does not mean that there will not be the “mechanics of a forest ecosystem”.

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In 2011, Europe saw its first urban forest created in Sardinia, using the Miyawaki method. This technique, named after its Japanese creator, makes it possible to restore primary forests on very damaged soils in record time. For example, a young primary forest can be rebuilt within 30 years, rather than 150 to 200 years if nature were to take its course.

In the wake of planting the urban micro forest in Sardinia, the European Commission has given its verdict: “the adapted Miyawaki method could be a new, rapid and cost-effective tool for foresters trying to reforest Mediterranean regions.”

The EU-funded project served as a test to see if forests of this type could thrive in extreme conditions. “The high-quality forest it creates could be particularly useful for conservation areas and nature parks where the aesthetics and ecological impact of traditional reforestation techniques may limit their use,” the Commission’s report concluded.

Combating CO2 emissions

According to Greenpeace Germany, forests have the potential to absorb 245.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year, a figure that would rise to 487.8 million were forestry reduced by a third. Mini urban forests, which have been rapidly growing in recent years, play an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide.

“I have the impression that the craze comes from the fact that we are a bit fatalistic about climate change. People don’t know what to do, it seems so gigantic. This is a friendly, participatory solution that is accessible in terms of budget and surface area,” de Brabandère explained.

While the EU has not financed any other Miyawaki projects since Sardinia, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has promised to create four urban forests in the French capital before the end of her term.

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