BZS Micro Forest Project
This sustainable initiative has seen BZS plant 10 micro forests around Bermuda to date, with many more to come: ultimately, 1,500 trees and shrubs will be planted each year of the 3-year programme. These dense plots are planted with native and endemic species, around three or four per square metre, and can be squeezed in anywhere there is space, from schoolyards to private gardens.
The BZS Micro Forest Project was inspired by the success of the Miyawaki Forest model spanning multiple countries, showing the world how micro forests benefit the local communities and local wildlife, whilst lowering the carbon footprint of those communities by creating ‘carbon sinks’. ‘Carbon sinks’, in terms of a micro forest, are described as a diverse habitat of native plant life that will remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their foliage, roots and limbs. Selecting areas in which these micro forests will be preserved allows the chosen plots of land to continually remove and store the carbon as the unit grows and matures. As a by-product of the photosynthesis process that plants use to remove the carbon from the atmosphere, oxygen is emitted from the plants thus, reversing the greenhouse effect.
The ever-growing problem of invasive species puts pressure on our unique and fragile Bermuda environment. Bermuda’s endemic species, only found on our little rock in the Sargasso Sea, are dwindling in comparison to the invasive, exotic species imported from overseas. Over the last eighty years the Bermuda landscape has changed to become dominated by these foreign species. These species, in turn, spread more seeds in our habitat leading to faster growing populations not dissimilar to a virus. They also grow at rates that our local flora cannot compete with, causing a ‘crowding out’ effect and then inevitable ‘choking out’ effect. By clearing sections of land dominated by these invasive species and replacing them with a diverse mixture of native and endemic plants, we not only create a dense forest of local plant life, but also contribute to the spread of seeds from Bermuda’s own iconic, rare, and beautiful flora.
These micro forests grow within two to three years and are then self-sustaining. These forests look attractive and help to restore green spaces to our island. If that wasn't enough, they also help to lower the air temperature, reduce air and noise pollution, sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and provides an attractive habitat and feeding ground for local wildlife.
A micro forest not only acts as a ‘carbon sink’, to absorb and sequester carbon but it also comes with a multitude of benefits. They act as a refuge for the rare native and endemic plants, insects, and birds. The diverse species of plants produce flowers, and therefore pollen and seeds, which are then dispersed by birds and pollinators to spread native and endemic seed stock to the surrounding area. The native and endemic plants drop debris that slowly alters the soil composition to recreate a pre-colonial Bermuda soil, this benefits the subterranean insects and networks of mycelium that are extremely important, but otherwise overlooked. The natural landscape reduces the ‘heat island’ effect by absorbing water, light and heat radiation, and decreasing temperature, whereas manmade structures and roads reflect them back into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect.
With more resources, a plant nursery will be established, to grow and nurture seedlings for these green spaces. The goal is to provide up to 3,000 seedlings a year for our volunteers, schools, groups and residents to avail themselves of along with expert advice in how to establish their own micro forest.
The collaboration of public-private partnerships is invaluable to the growth of projects like this around the globe. In this case, Bermuda Zoological Society, Renaissance Re, and the Department of Parks funded and developed the foundations for the BZS Micro Forest Project. Projects such as these require a joint effort to achieve the vision of seeing Bermuda flourish with native flora. Without the generous organizations and individuals that combined for the project’s conception, we may still be looking at an area of invasive ground cover rather than the now native dominant landscape.
While the programme has gotten off to a flying start, there is still much more that can be achieved with the help of donors. If you would like to make a contribution towards the future of Bermuda, please consider making a donation (one-off or otherwise) or consider leaving a legacy for the Bermuda Zoological Society. To find out more, please reach out to our Development Officer, Lynda Johnson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (441) 293 2727 x2136.