START is helping to coordinate the planting of a 1.5-acre microforest at Colony Cove, a community of manufactured homes on the north shore of the Manatee River, just across from the Ellenton Outlet Mall. This will be the third microforest planted by Suncoast Urban Reforesters (SURF), which is a consortium that includes Florida Veterans for Common Sense, Sarasota Bay Rotary Club, START and other allied supporters. The microforest will convert one and a half acres of currently mowed turf terrain into a flourishing native forest that will intercept and filter nutrient-bearing stormwater before it flows into the Manatee River. The diversely planted forest will also provide habitat for wildlife displaced by urbanization and sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, which helps mitigate the effects of climate change. In fact, Colony Cove’s parent company, Equity LifeStyle Properties, is funding the project and also contracting with Professor Brad Oberle of New College to calculate the carbon offsets (tons of CO2) the microforest will remove from the atmosphere. This project will be reported in the Company’s communications including their annual Sustainability Report.
The START volunteer team is presently preparing the site for the microforest by establishing a simulated forest floor composed of recycled cardboard overlain with wood chips from tree-cutting operations. This will suppress the turf, attract fungi, and build an excellent soil base. After several weeks of incubation, we will purchase a wide variety of native one-to-three-gallon saplings and drill nearly 3,000 holes through the planting bed in a carefully determined pattern. We will then have a big planting day on June 13th with volunteers from all the participating organizations and the host community. Please mark your calendars accordingly and contact Charles Reith at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to take part in this important environmental project.
We look forward to collaborating with other interested communities and businesses along the Suncoast to plant more microforests that not only improve the hydrology of our watershed, but also provide wildlife habitat and climate stewardship as part of a comprehensive package of ecological restoration.