Woodland Restoration, Devon
Charlotte’s Wood shows what Creating Tomorrow’s Forests are all about – using their expertise to create diverse, native, thriving woodland as a home for UK wildlife with benefits for people. In this case, a beautiful wet woodland and water meadow is being developed on an unused farm area. The habitat is perfect for amphibians and rare insect species, and will help to control flooding.
Temperate Forest Regeneration
Creating Tomorrow's Forests
MethodologyWoodland Carbon Code
Charlotte’s Wood is a previously unused farm field in an area that floods frequently. It is a wet woodland, which is a transient and uncommon habitat supporting a high diversity of rare insects, declining bird species such as willow tits, and even otters.
Positive for Earth
Creating Tomorrow’s Forests are using the Miyawaki Method, one of the most effective tree planting approaches for degraded land, to create the forest. The method involves planting native trees at high densities so that they become a ‘tiny forest’, and the trees have been shown to grow much faster, jump starting forest creation. Higher biodiversity has also been recorded in Miyawaki forests than in neighbouring woodland, so it’s an ideal way to create diverse forest ecosystems quickly.
Miyawaki forests also absorb carbon at a faster rate than in standard approaches to tree planting as they grow more quickly and there are thirty times as many. Due to the high density, trees don’t get as large as those in other types of forests, but we think it’s worth it to rapidly tackle biodiversity loss in the UK.
The site is planted in two blocks with 15 different tree species. Black poplar and alder form the majority of the top canopy, and goat willow and bird cherry form the lower canopy. The shrub layer includes hazel, grey willow and wayfarer tree. There is a pond in the middle with amphibian hibernacula and basking areas, and marginal aquatic plants are planted around the site, including yellow flag iris, water mint and ragged robin.
Positive for People
Charlotte’s Wood used to spend months underwater every year which made it hard for the farmer to use the land and negatively impacted surrounding fields. Thanks to the creation of a diverse, tiny forest adapted to local conditions, flood risk in the surrounding area will be reduced. Forests can help to regulate water by intercepting rain, slowing down surface run-off and helping water soak into the soil.
Forests have amazing benefits beyond climate action and habitat for wildlife. Creating Tomorrow’s Forests ensure visitors have access to the sites so they can benefit from being surrounded by nature, which has been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing. They also provide jobs for planters, tree nurseries and ecologists across the UK.
One of the other aims of Creating Tomorrow’s Forests’ work is to help educate the wider public. The project provides opportunities for volunteers to take part in citizen science projects as we learn more about the outcomes of planting Miyawaki forests. This will help to form industry best practices across Tiny Forest networks. They also run a blog, interview series and special seminars, and they are developing new education opportunities with academics for children and young adults.