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Wollongong City Council

Dapto High School lends a hand to build new Tiny Forest

Friday 4 November 2022

Dapto student waters plants in new tiny forest.

On Friday 4 November, Wollongong City Council teamed up with students from Dapto High School to plant a new Tiny Forest filled with over 250 new plants comprising of more than 30 different local native species.

This project is one part of Council’s Urban Greening program, working with the community to create a more liveable future by increasing the tree canopy and biodiversity of our suburbs.

Our latest Tiny Forest is located in the middle of suburbia on a vacant block of land near the school on the corner of Cleveland Road and Western Avenue in Dapto. This site was colloquially known by the locals as ‘The Dirt Patch’, so we’re pleased to work with local students to transform the area into what we’re now calling ‘The Green Patch’.

Tiny Forests is an innovative project that swaps grass with a range of native plants and trees to create a multi-layered forest. This is a great opportunity to increase the tree canopy cover in suburbs like Dapto that have incredibly low canopy levels.

Wollongong City Acting Lord Mayor Councillor Tania Brown said that each Tiny Forest helps make streets cooler and communities more liveable as they only need a small space and can thrive in polluted and built-up areas.

“Our Tiny Forests are designed to make better use of some of our underutilised outdoor spaces. A forest is much more sustainable than a patch of mowed grass. One Tiny Forest creates 30 times more green surface area than grass alone and will provide a habitat for many more animals and insects,” Cr Brown said.

“Tiny Forests provide much needed shade and cool air, help maintain clean air and water, and restore local biodiversity. They also absorb carbon dioxide to help us tackle climate change, create a buffer to reduce noise and are really easy to maintain as over time they become a self-sustaining system.

“Council has a goal to increase the average canopy cover in Wollongong to 35-40%. To reach that, we estimate that we’ll need to plant eight trees for every one tree that’s growing today. It’s an ambitious target, but thanks to the ongoing support from schools and other community champions, we’re getting closer to this goal every day.”

Preparation work is important for any Tiny Forest to thrive. In the weeks leading up to planting the Dapto Tiny Forest, Council has been working closely with students from Dapto High School to get the right nutrients into the soil.

Wollongong City Council Waste Education Officer, Penny Hoswell said the Tiny Forests were inspired by the work of Japanese Botanist, Akira Miyawaki.

“Each forest is roughly the size of a small tennis court, but despite its tiny size they’re filled with a diverse mix of Illawarra native plants that were selected by specialist staff at Wollongong Botanic Garden and grown at our Greenplan Nursery. The plants will replicate the layers of a forest including an understory layer, canopy and emergent layer. The soil will contain FOGO compost collected from our community which is diverting tonnes of waste from landfill,” Ms Hoswell said.

“Before planting we carefully prepared the soil to make sure it had the right nutrients, bacteria and fungi to help the plants thrive quickly. Then on planting day, we plant everything close together to encourage them to grow faster as the compete against each other for light.

“Although the Tiny Forest will be maintained in the early years as the plants establish roots, the forest will grow incredibly fast. This forest should take about 10 years to mature, compared to the 70 years it normally takes a forest to restore, which means these kids will get to grow up alongside the forest and watch their efforts take shape.”

Visit our website to learn more about the work Council is doing to green our suburbs.

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