In March we began planting Leeds’s first Micro Wood, inspired by the Miyawaki-style of forest. The concept came from Japan in the late 70s/early 80s and was named after Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. Miyawaki was trying to mimic the conditions of an ancient forest, creating something that would grow ten times faster than a normal woodland. Trees are planted tightly together to encourage competition and creates a fast-growing woodland. Our Micro Wood, which is Leeds’ first, will provide a noise and pollution barrier intercepting and dispersing harmful, airborne, ultrafine particulate matter blowing across the site form the adjacent A61 dual carriageway.

Before planting, the ground was intensively prepared by digging down one metre, bringing in soil ameliorant, some green waste and well-rotted farm manure to help create the rich, loose, friable growing conditions.

We planted 1,200 trees over two days with help from Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School, Richmond Hill Academy, Caval volunteers, a White Rose Forest member and Saxton Apartments Residents volunteers. Everyone really enjoyed getting stuck in. Our volunteers and the pupils got a lot out of it and we’ve hopefully helped attract some custodians for the forest as it grows in the next few years.

The tree and shrub species are of local provenance and locally sourced from Leeds’s own Arium nursery. The 12 native species are planted on a grid pattern and they’re all the trees that would have grown here in Leeds before humans arrived. After three years, you don’t have to do any maintenance; It looks after itself. The chosen species have evolved over millennia to grow symbiotically with each other which helps promote fast growth.

We’re working with the University of Leeds’ Air Quality Department and will be installing their Purple Air sensors in front and behind the site. This means we can see what effect this heavily dense planting will do in terms of air quality from the busy A61. We’re also working with the schools to do some citizen science, monitor the growth and carry out light maintenance of the space.

Interpretation panels will be installed shortly as well as a couple of picnic benches and a circular footpath. We’ll make the space suitable for the community to use to come and relax once it’s established.

“I had a great day volunteering for Groundwork and I am grateful to have helped create a lovely green space in Leeds. The project team were friendly, knowledgeable and made it easy to get involved. Also, I enjoyed that I could learn about Miyawaki forests and their impact- especially as I was new to the concept. Overall, it was a fun experience and I would be more than happy to volunteer again!”
Olivia Smith, Social Value Administrator, Caval Ltd 

“Thoroughly enjoyed a morning volunteering with Groundwork. The team were friendly and helpful and above all very hard working. It was nice to see other members of the community and also schoolchildren join us to pitch in for the local area. I would certainly be interested in volunteering again.”
Tom Hughes, Divisional Manager, Caval Ltd