As shown above, a new Microforest was completed on September 13th in the Herons Nest community in Lakewood Ranch. This is the seventh Microforest that has been installed by the Suncoast Urban Reforesters (SURF), a partnership created in October 2020 with the Florida Veterans For Common Sense Fund, Inc, the Sarasota Bay Rotary Club and START. Microforests now extend from Ellenton in Manatee County down to Palmer Ranch in Sarasota County.

Funding for the Herons Nest Microforest was generously provided by Community Development District 1 of Lakewood Ranch, the Lakewood Ranch Rotary Club and Rotary Club District 6960. The project was planned by SURF, Zach Zildjian of ZZ Designs and Rotary Club members with on-site supervision from Manatee County Master Gardeners and implemented by dozens of hard-working volunteers on planting day.

Each of the seven Suncoast Microforest habitats consists of up to 70 different species of native trees, shrubs and ground covers that are densely planted into a carefully prepared mulch bed ranging in size from a quarter acre to a full acre. Each Microforest plays an important role in improving the quality of our waterways by intercepting stormwater that transports excess nutrients downstream to the Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Herons Nest Microforest is an exciting first for the SURF team because the upland plantings that are a part of every Microforest were combined with bank-stabilizing semi aquatic plants and the littoral zone plantings used in START’s Healthy Pond Collaborative to enhance ailing stormwater ponds. It is hoped that the Herons Nest Microforest will serve as the prototype for the comprehensive land-to-lake environmental stewardship that will have the greatest positive impact on reducing the excess nutrients that foul our waterways and feed harmful algal blooms like Red Tide.

If you are interested in creating a Microforest in your community or place of business, contact Charles Reith at

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