Local Tiny Forests make a big sustainable impact

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Earthwatch and Bupa

The City of Monash, VIC and Ku-ring-gai Council, NSW will benefit from a new Tiny Forest as part of a partnership between Bupa and Earthwatch that will see the organisations join forces with local community members for a planting day aimed at preserving local biodiversity and creating healthy environments for healthy people.

The tennis court sized Tiny Forests, located in Victoria and New South Wales will contain a combined total of 60 different species of indigenous plants (2,160 plants in total) that will grow up to 10 times faster than traditional forests while promoting better air quality. Funding for this initiative comes as a result of Bupa’s Healthy Cities challenge where its people took over 500 million steps to unlock $1 million in funding for environmental projects across Asia Pacific, bringing to life the link between human health and the health of the planet.

Earthwatch CEO, Fiona Sutton Wilson said both the City of Monash and Ku-ring-gai Council Tiny Forest sites were selected in consultation with Council because of their low biodiversity with large unused grassed areas that supported little wildlife.

“The quality of green space matters in our cities. We know that taking a dose of nature is good for our mental and physical health and we are drawn to green spaces and places for a sense of belonging, a connection to others and a connection to nature. Being among the trees, watching the pollinators and butterflies, is something rare in our cities for many of us.

“A global campaign to increase urban greening, the Tiny Forest initiative brings nature to our doorsteps, and more of this is urgently needed. Earthwatch brings people together to plant the Tiny Forest and to participate in Science Days so the community can learn about and measure the benefits these forests contribute to nature and to people in their own suburb. Cross sector partnerships like the one between Bupa, Earthwatch, City of Monash and local residents demonstrate that we all want to take effective action on climate change, biodiversity loss, and that we can do this in our own neighbourhood,” Fiona said.

The City of Monash planting day on Wednesday 15th May saw dozens of community members, alongside Bupa and Earthwatch staff get their hands dirty to support Victoria’s first Tiny Forest. This planting session will be followed by the community planting day in Ku-ring-gai Council on Sunday 16 June, where 1,470 native local species will be planted to rejuvenate the threatened ecological community.

Bupa APAC Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer, Roger Sharp said it’s long been understood that getting active in nature is good for both your physical and mental health.

“As a health and care company, we know that to have healthy people, you need to have a healthy planet. That’s why we’re so pleased that the millions of steps our people took as part of the 2023 Healthy Cities program has unlocked funding for amazing biodiversity projects such as Tiny Forests.

“We hope these green spaces will be enjoyed by local communities for generations and encourage physically and mentally healthy lifestyles that include engaging with nature through conservation volunteering,” Roger said.

Following the planting days, the Monash and Ku-ring-gai sites will also engage enthused local residents as Tree Keepers, who will maintain the sites for the first two years after planting to monitor their growth and success.

Ku-ring-gai Mayor Sam Ngai said “Tiny Forest and these urban wildlife oases help to reconnect people with nature and mitigate our urban climate and biodiversity challenges. We are encouraging the local community to help plant, maintain and conduct important research at these sites and we look forward to welcoming local residents and school students as ‘Tree Keepers’ to look after the trees as they grow.”

City of Monash Mayor, Cr Nicky Luo said “This innovative partnership with Earthwatch Australia, Bupa and our local community ensures we are part of an important worldwide movement to support afforestation and introduce dense native forest environments to our urban areas.”

“This new Tiny Forest not only supports our broader strategic goals to increase tree canopy cover across Monash to 30% by 2040, it also strengthens local biodiversity, absorbs carbon, cools down our city, and provides wonderful new experiences for our community to connect to nature,” Cr Luo said.

Bupa looks forward to expanding on the success of its Healthy Cities program across APAC in the second half of 2024 and unlocking additional funds for local environmental regeneration projects.

 

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