Imagine if you could say, “In the next 10 years, I will grow an established 100 year old forest in my backyard.” Seems like an outlandish idea, especially if you live in the downtown area. But Shubhendu Sharma, an entrepreneur and forest facilitator, does just that. He’s helped plant 75 thriving forests in 25 cities around the world. Yes, you read it right. Forests. In. Cities.
What do these forests look like? Sharma defines a forest as a piece of land with trees so dense that one can’t walk into it. The size of the forest doesn’t matter to this forest facilitator—but biodiversity, native species, and living soils do. These are the essential elements to the forests Sharma creates.
In a TED talk in May 2016, Sharma explains that “a forest is not an isolated piece of land”, but rather has the potential to “be an integral part of our urban existence”. His belief is that all the needed elements of forests already exist around us wherever we live and that all we need to do to create mini-forests is to bring the required elements together, and allow natural systems to take over.
Sharma outlines a simple plan: add biomass to soil to increase water-holding capacity, add microorganisms to bring nutrients to the soil, and plant native species selectively. Nurture the young forest by weeding, mulching and watering until the trees are established. In 10 years, the land will be like that of a 100 year old forest. The forest will be lush, vital and dense. Dead leaves from trees will decompose naturally into nutrient rich humus, and the forest floor will be moist and alive. Birds will sing from the beautiful living canopy.
Growing 100 year old forests in our cities is not an outlandish goal. We have the capacity to bring our cities back to life by careful and thoughtful planning. Watch Shubhenda Sharma’s TED Talk for some green inspiration!
You can see his full presentation by visiting: http://www.ecology.com/2016/07/15/grow-forest-backyard/
To sign our petition calling on the City of Ottawa to adopt a long-term Urban Forest Management Strategy, visit this page: https://treeottawa.org/2014/11/07/petition-the-city-of-ottawa-to-adopt-a-longterm-forest-management-strategy/