Tiny forest in Exmouth, Devon.
Tiny forest in Exmouth, Devon.

A tiny forest, made up of more than 600 trees and planted in a space roughly the size of a tennis court, has taken root in Exmouth.  

Nearly 100 volunteers, aged three to 96 years old, braved patchy and muddy weather to transform a 300-square metre area at the edge of King George’s playing field on Carter Avenue. 

The new forest has been influenced by the Japanese Miyawaki tiny forest concept, where young trees are planted close together in the hope that competition will encourage the forest to grow faster than traditional woodlands. The tree-mendous concept has been spearheaded by Exmouth’s Tiny Forest Group, in collaboration with Devon County Council (DCC), East Devon District Council (EDDC), and ParkLife Southwest. 

The area will now be used as a hub for outdoor engagement, education, and learning. Volunteers included pupils and teachers from Exeter Road Primary School, the Deaf Academy, and The Outdoors School. Staff from LiveWest housing association also helped, along with Exmouth Wildlife Group members, the Tiny Forest Group, and local residents. 

EDDC’s Parks and Gardens team also incorporated an additional 185 broadleaf trees, creating three small copses to surround the tiny forest. This will assist ongoing research into the two contrasting planting styles, comparing differences in health, growth rate, and wildlife potential, and will help shape future planting methods. 

The project was funded through DCC’s The Woodland Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund and the Forestry Commission’s Local Authority Treescapes Fund. 

A local resident said: 

“Shifting 10 tonnes of compost in wheelbarrows, planting all the trees, and then shifting a further seven cubic meters of woodchip mulch was only made possible by such positive teamwork. Over two days, we managed to transform this area. It’s a very rewarding feeling.” 

Councillor Geoff Jung, portfolio holder for Coast Country and Environment, added: 

“There is an inverse relationship between the importance of urban tree planting to protect future communities as pocket woodlands such as this, and the available land in urban green spaces to create woodlands.  

“This great project is very much a testament to the Carter Avenue residents and business community and their desire to create something unique to East Devon that will help shape their future community.  

“The children who helped to plant this tiny forest, which will be used to educate them on the importance of urban woodlands, will see this pocket woodland develop and establish itself well into the next century.  

“The biggest thanks go to members of the Tiny Forest Group and their determination to make the Carter Avenue green space the first in the district to have a tiny forest.”