Tiny Forest West Pymble

 Tiny Forests 2024

What is a Tiny Forest?

Tiny Forests are densely-packed patches of local native bushland around the size of a tennis court. These urban wildlife oases have the potential to help us fight pollution and global warming while creating a place for community to gather, learn about and interact with nature.

Tiny Forests use the established Miyawaki planting method that includes soil enrichment, diverse local indigenous plant selection and a dense planting structure. Tiny forests may be small, but they punch above their weight, at least ecologically speaking. Tiny Forests are supercharged, growing up to 10 times faster than natural bushland. Click the map of the Tiny Forest below to view.

Why West Pymble?

The site at West Pymble will be approximately 320 square metres in total and that includes the outdoor classroom and the control plot. This means that the Village Green will still be able to be used by people wanting to kick a ball, walk the dog or just enjoy some open space.

A Tiny Forest has a number of site requirements which are listed below, but one of the key criteria for Council was a space where the Tiny Forest wouldn’t impact existing users. You can see from the image above that the Tiny Forest only takes up a small area and screens the oval from the petrol station improving the amenity for all of the reserve users.

Tiny Forest site criteria

  • A site of approximately 200m2 for the Tiny Forest, plus space for heavy machinery to do preparation work so total space possibly up to 500m2. This area can be of any shape/orientation, but the forest must not be narrower than 4m across at any given point.
  • No underground infrastructure: soil typically excavated to 1m depth.
  • No overhead infrastructure: trees could grow to 20m+.
  • Need a site that is accessible for large machinery: mini digger needed for soil preparation, plus truck delivery of straw and other soil supplements.
  • Possible water access point: trees may need watering during first 2 years of maintenance, so either a water access point located nearby, or access for a vehicle and water bowser to the site.
  • A site that is not causing obstruction to people’s right of way (the forest becomes very dense and impassable unless a specific pathway is incorporated into the design).
  • Need a site that is within an urban setting and that is easily accessible to users (eg. local residents, school children, corporate employees).
  • Site should not be designated as sensitive in any way, eg. Ramsar site etc.
  • Site should be an open area (we do not want to remove trees to plant new ones!), some scrub or low vegetation is fine, as are trees on the edge of the proposed site as these could potentially be incorporated into the design.
  • The forest should be as compact as possible and is not suitable for using as hedging.
  • Paths and an open classroom can be included into the design.
  • The forest is fenced while the site is being prepared (for safety) and with logs or other natural fencing for at least the first 2 years. In West Pymble the fencing will be removed as soon as planted out and only the logs will remain.

Who is involved in the Tiny Forest?

Council is working with Earthwatch Australia in partnership with Bupa to establish our first Tiny Forest at West Pymble Village Green.

Established in 1982, Earthwatch Australia is a citizen science organisation that engages communities in scientific research to protect landscapes and wildlife. The Earthwatch Tiny Forest program creates a network of outdoor classrooms and living labs where school children and communities monitor biodiversity, growth rates, carbon storage, thermal comfort, water infiltration, soil condition, social benefits and learn about the importance of local biodiversity to our lives. Earthwatch leads the Miyawaki Research Network, a global coalition studying the benefits of Tiny Forests. Recent contributions by Earthwatch to urban biodiversity and community resilience research in Australia include the "Playbook for Urban Biodiversity" (2024) and "Let’s Scale Up! Urban Greening in the Private Realm: Engaging and motivating community" (2022).

Earthwatch is working with councils around Australia to implement the Tiny Forest program, which is sponsored by Bupa.

Earthwatch is currently working with Councils at Lake Macquarie, Adelaide and Monash. Tiny forests have also been built all around the world, but the Ku-ring-gai Tiny Forest will be the first in Sydney!

Who is paying?

Earthwatch Australia is funded by philanthropy, corporations and government. In September 2023, Bupa's "Move Month" generated $1M for urban regeneration, with Earthwatch receiving funding as one of four environmental organizations. Earthwatch Tiny Forests program prioritise education, citizen science and biodiversity outcomes. Bupa's contribution will fund forest assets and related education and research programs at two sites.

Community involvement

We encourage the local community to help plant, maintain and conduct important research at these sites, to better understand the benefits these tiny but mighty native forests provide. The results of the Tiny Forest will be monitored with the help of citizen scientists and local schools. The research data gathered will go towards a global research project that looks at tiny forests from around the world.

The primary users of the site were identified as the local schools and church who have both been consulted. We are collaborating with the schools through citizen science and developing curriculum-linked learning outcomes. 

What plants will be used?

The Tiny Forest will use plant species found within the Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest (STIF), a Critically Endangered Ecological Community.

Council’s nursery is providing approximately 980 native plants to grow the Tiny Forest and the Indigo Native Nursery are providing a further 490 native species. Nursery volunteers have propagated and cared for these seedlings, which all belong to the Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest ecological community. Seed and cuttings were collected from local populations to ensure the Tiny Forest is suited to Ku-ring-gai’s conditions and ensure the continuation of wild plants.

Get involved - Tree Planting event -  16 June 2024

Join us in mid-June for a fun day planting Sydney’s first Tiny Forest!

No previous experience is necessary. Friendly Earthwatch staff will be on hand to show you what needs to be done. All tools and materials provided and everyone is welcome.

A separate day for school students to get involved with planting will be held on 17 June, involving West Pymble Primary and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Curriculum modules have been developed for Ku-ring-gai schools to make use of as well as the outdoor learning space designed as part of the Tiny Forest. Into the future and as the Tiny Forest grows the school children will have the opportunity to be tree keepers – more information below.

Become a Tree Keeper

Would you like to help us maintain, monitor and protect this new urban biodiversity oasis? We are seeking passionate volunteers of all ages to help us look after our Tiny Forest at West Pymble Village Green.

No experience necessary! You will need to visit the Tiny Forest a handful of times a year to do basic maintenance. You can also help collect data through Earthwatch citizen science surveys.

We will provide you with all the information and tools you need to take part. Register your interest for more information by emailing hello@earthwatch.org.au.

Tiny Forests 2024