Planting a network of mini forests across Canada

Six new mini forests were planted in cities across Canada in 2023 as part of a national pilot project to combat biodiversity loss and create new green spaces in urban areas — and the work is just beginning

  • Published Jan 03, 2024
  • Updated Jan 25
  • 758 words
  • 4 minutes

Good things take root when a community comes together to plant a mini-forest. Neighbours meet and connect. Urban wildlife find leafy refuge from the concrete and glass landscape of the city. The air gets cleaner and cooler. 

That’s the ethos and the vision behind a national pilot project to introduce new green spaces into urban environments and combat biodiversity loss in Canada by planting mini forests. The project, led by Green Communities Canada in collaboration with Dougan & Associates, Canadian Geographic and Wilder Climate Solutions through the Network of Nature, aims to transform identified sites using an innovative tree-planting method modelled after the Miyawaki forest technique

Mini forests, also known as tiny forests or Miyawaki forests, are small-scale, densely planted native urban forests. These forests have been successfully grown on private properties in Japan and elsewhere for more than 40 years. The Miyawaki method of planting encourages tree communities to grow upward and to share resources. The forests quickly grow into green oases for birds, insects, and small animals, and become places the public can enjoy. Their dense structure protects the ecosystem and provides local benefits such as improved air quality, stormwater retention and a reduction of the urban heat island effect. 

In 2023, the National Mini Forest Pilot worked with municipalities and community organizations to plant some 2,800 trees in five cities across Canada. In 2024, they hope to plant over 10,000 trees. Click on a map pin or scroll down to explore Canada’s newest tiny forests. This map will be updated as new tiny forests are planted.

  1. 1. Terra Nova Rural Park Mini Forest

    To launch the National Mini Forest Pilot, residents of Richmond, B.C., gathered in a small plot at Terra Nova Rural Park for a kick-off planting event on April 22, 2023. 

    “I hope that today people are inspired to continue planting more trees and looking for ways that they can take direct action in their own backyards or within their own communities,” said Emily Amon, green infrastructure manager at Green Communities Canada. (Source)

  2. 2. The Pocket Tiny Forest

    On September 30, 2023, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Program (SNAP), in partnership with the City of Toronto, the Pocket Community Association (PCA), and the Network of Nature, hosted a community event to plant the Pocket Tiny Forest.

    This innovative project is one of the first of its kind in Toronto, bringing the ecological benefits of tiny forests to the Pocket neighbourhood. Over the summer, TRCA conducted horticultural soil sampling at the designated planting location and finalized site preparation, including staking out boundaries, suppressing weed growth with cardboard, enriching the soil with compost and mulch, and installing deer fencing to protect the area from wildlife and pedestrians.

    This tiny forest represents not only a green oasis in Toronto, but also a shining example of what communities can achieve when they come together to embrace nature. (Source)

  3. 3. York Road Park Mini Forest

    In September 2023, approximately 1,300 native trees, shrubs and groundcover plants were planted with the help of the community at the City of Guelph’s first mini forest demonstration site in York Road Park. Canopy tree species planted at the 500 square metre site included sugar maple, red maple, black walnut, white pine, black cherry, white oak and red oak. Among the understory and groundcover species planted were silky dogwood, American hazel, American plum, fragrant sumac, black raspberry, witch hazel, mapleleaf viburnum, broad-leaved sedge, woodland strawberry and zig zag goldenrod. (Source)

  4. 4. Johnson Tew Arboretum Mini Forest

    On October 14 and 16, 2023, the City of Hamilton planted 900 diverse native trees and shrubs for the National Mini Forest Pilot at Johnson Tew Arboretum.

  5. 5. Milne Dam Conservation Park Mini-Forest

    On September 20, 2023, the City of Markham planted 300 trees in a 100 square metre plot in Milne Dam Conservation Park. The park is named after the Milne family, who operated a dam and mill on the Rouge River in the 1820s. Historical imagery indicates the site was used for pasture prior to its purchase by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in the 1950s and frequently flooded. The mini-forest is expected to help with stormwater management and flood protection.

  6. 6. Austin Drive Park Mini-Forest

    On September 22, 2023, the City of Markham planted 300 trees on a 100-square-metre plot in Austin Drive Park, also within the Rouge River valley. The mini-forest site is located within an upland meadow and will enhance connectivity between two adjacent woodlands. 

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