A Micro-Forest Comes To the Celery Fields

START is pleased to announce an exciting new water quality partnership with the Sarasota Bay Rotary Club, Veterans for Common Sense Fund, Inc. and the Florida Native Plant Society that will be known as the Sarasota Urban ReForesters (SURF). The objective of the partnership is to help replace the urban forests that have been largely lost with the ongoing development of the Suncoast.

Working in conjunction with Sarasota County’s Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST), the project will employ the first Micro-Forest in our area that will intercept, transpire and/or filter water before it runs into the wetlands and stormwater ponds that protect the Philippi Creek watershed from flooding.

Micro-Forests are the creation of renowned Japanese botanist, Akira Miyawaki, and feature small, dense plantings that grow 100 times faster, become 30 times denser and 100 times more biodiverse than conventional forests. There are over 1,000 Micro-Forests in Japan and they are spreading worldwide especially in Europe where they are being used in Holland, Belgium and France to help control stormwater and improve water quality.

In addition to flood abatement and water purification, the Micro-Forest at the Celery Fields will also improve carbon sequestration by applying a mixture of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants to create a dryland hammock that will support species of birds, mammals, and pollinators that are presently unrepresented at the Celery Fields. The plan is to create a small nature trail through the Micro-Forest’s interior where a few benches will allow visitors to enjoy some quiet space and watch nature at work.

While the initial stage of the Micro-Forest has been funded, the Sarasota Urban ReForesters are seeking additional funds to expand the Micro-Forest at the Celery Fields and bring the concept to more interested locations. For further information about sponsorship funding contact Sandy Gilbert at sandem133@aol.com.

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