Countryside and Earthwatch Europe host science day to engage local community in benefits of Bishop’s Stortford’s new Tiny Forest
25 Sep 2023

Countryside and Earthwatch Europe host science day to engage local community in benefits of Bishop’s Stortford’s new Tiny Forest

On Wednesday 13th September, Countryside (now part of Vistry Group) welcomed the local community to St James’ Park, its development in Bishop’s Stortford, to take part in some hands-on research at their on-site Tiny Forest.

The Tiny Forest initiative, which was launched in Bishop’s Stortford in March, is a programme run by Earthwatch Europe - an environmental charity and Independent Research Organisation - which works with local communities and partners to plant and maintain dense and fast-growing native woodlands in urban areas, to reconnect people with nature, mitigate the impacts of climate change and provide nature-rich patches to support urban wildlife.

A range of educational activities were organised for members of the local community, including approximately 80 pupils from The Bishop’s Stortford High School.

Data collection methods, such as monitoring the trees to measure carbon capture, recording butterfly and other pollinator numbers to understand biodiversity at the site, and looking at the forest’s flood management and thermal comfort capacity, were all undertaken by attendees, allowing Earthwatch Europe to assess the progress of the Tiny Forest.

By immersing the local community in the project, Countryside and Earthwatch Europe will not only share the environmental and social benefits of Tiny Forests with as many people as possible, but this approach also enables valuable data to be collected which can help mitigate environmental challenges.

Martin Leach, Managing Director, Vistry Major Projects, said: “It was great to see so many members of the local community come together again to see the next stage of the St James’ Park Tiny Forest journey unfold. Working alongside Earthwatch Europe to deliver Bishop’s Stortford’s first Tiny Forest, we are particularly excited to involve the Bishop’s Stortford community in this exciting initiative, who will be a great help when collecting data and monitoring the forest’s growth.”

Louise Hartley, Tiny Forest Senior Programme Manager, Earthwatch Europe said: “Thanks to support from Countryside, we had a brilliant day engaging students and members of Grove Cottage with their Tiny Forest. They helped us gather data by taking part in surveys whilst also having the opportunity to connect with nature and learn more about how the Tiny Forest benefits their community. This is what Tiny Forest is all about, bringing people together in nature.”

Hanna Mroczka, Learning and Engagement Coordinator, Earthwatch Europe said: “There is big pressure on housing developers as land-use change is one of the core drivers of climate change and natural habitat loss. However, sustainable land development means mitigating the impacts of climate change, such as flooding and urban heating, as well as ensuring the wellbeing of future residents through the provision of nature-rich green spaces.

By supporting our Tiny Forest and its education programme, Countryside is working to provide natural green spaces near housing and schools as well as equipping the local community with the tools they need to connect with and engage in action for nature.

During our Tiny Forest Science Day, we had a chance to work with ambitious teachers and pupils from the Bishop’s Stortford High School, inspiring staff and clients from Grove Cottage, Bishop’s Stortford’s Mencap, Friends of the local parks as well as residents who will engage and benefit from the Tiny Forest project in the years to come.”

Dale Reeve, Headteacher of The Bishop’s Stortford High School, commented "As the St James’ Park Tiny Forest borders our new School site, our students have a great opportunity to watch it grow, and to play a role in monitoring and maintaining the natural environment.

This generation of young people will be central to tackling climate change and reducing the impact on our natural environment. It is six months since our students helped plant the forest, and we were very eager to see how it is progressing and continue to nurture it.”

Jocelin Warren, Operations Manager, Grove Cottage, said: ‘Grove Cottage is delighted to be part of this environmental project and to be working with other local community groups. To watch and monitor the growth of the trees we helped to plant is a privilege for our Grove Grows Gardening Club members and we look forward to seeing the Tiny Forest evolve.’

If you are interested in volunteering at Bishop’s Stortford’s Tiny Forest as a Tree Keeper, email tinyforest@earthwatch.org.uk

About Earthwatch Europe

Earthwatch Europe is an environmental charity with science at its heart. We drive the change needed to live within our means and in balance with nature. We do this by:

• Connecting people with the natural world

• Monitoring the health of our natural resources

• Informing the actions that will have the greatest positive impact

Earthwatch is pioneering Tiny Forest in the UK, and is working with partners - including businesses, local authorities, schools and communities - to plant, maintain and monitor their Tiny Forest.

For further information about Tiny Forests or Earthwatch, visit our website at https://earthwatch.org.uk/get-involved/tiny-forest or email pressoffice@earthwatch.org.uk


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