The Manhattan Healing Forest will soon fortify the southern shore of Roosevelt Island against the battering currents of the East River. This man-made forest of 1,000 trees will act as a “living barrier against flooding and erosion, preventing pollutant runoff and enhancing air quality,” according to SUGi Pocket Forests, the biodiversity advocacy group that will bring the park to life. A special method of planting, the Miyawaki Method, makes this forest perfectly suited to New York City’s tight spaces.

Tiny forest rendering
Courtesy of SUGi 

The Miyawaki Method was invented nearly 20 years ago by Japanese botanist and plant ecologist Akira Miyawaki. It involves planting a variety of different flora and fauna very close together so that their roots form tight, interwoven connections. This network of roots strengthens the land and spurs the forest into rapid growth.

“Using this tight-knit planting Miyawaki Method to strengthen root connections which in turn boosts tree growth exponentially mirrors how diverse communities can come close together now and do this,” Christina Delfico, founder iDig2Learn states on the SUGi Pocket Forest website, “After all, New Yorkers understand crowded small spaces and if we can plant it here it can plant it anywhere.” SUGi Pocket Forests have been planted across the globe from Australia to South America.

New York’s new pocket forest will contain 40 unique native plant species in just 2,700 square feet. Visitors will see towering White Oaks and Eastern White Pines among beds of New York Fern and Virginia strawberries. These diverse blooms will provide habitats for migratory birds, butterflies, and more urban wildlife like squirrels, peregrine falcons, and red-tailed hawks.

Roosevelt Island
Outline of tiny forest location, Courtesy of SUGi

The forest will rise from an unused garden bed at Roosevelt Island’s Southpoint Park, according to The New York Times. This spot is located near the abandoned smallpox hospital and Four Freedoms Park. Volunteers are set to start planting on April 6th! If you are interested in volunteering, fill out this form.

Next, check out NYC Rooftops Turning the Skyline Green