City residents have been discovering the benefits of the Black Country’s first Tiny Forest during a special monitoring day.

Members of the local community joined forces with environmental charity Earthwatch Europe and Councillor Steve Evans, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for city environment and climate change, for the event at Oak Street Open Space in Merridale.

They were tracking the progress of the city’s Tiny Forest, a project led by Earthwatch and jointly funded by City of Wolverhampton Council and OVO Foundation, the charitable arm of OVO Energy.

Earthwatch organised the community monitoring event to collect data on carbon absorption, flood management, thermal comfort and the wildlife that has made the new forest their home.

The forest was planted at Oak Street Open Space in March with the support of pupils from the nearby Merridale Primary School. Further monitoring days with local residents and schoolchildren will take place throughout the coming months. 

Tiny Forests aim to inspire local people to take action on the climate crisis by reducing their carbon footprint, enhancing the physical environment and limiting their impact on the planet.

The planting at Oak Street supports City of Wolverhampton Council’s Tree and Woodland Strategy and Open Space Strategy, as well as forming part of the response to its Climate Emergency declaration made in July 2019.

Councillor Steve Evans said: “It’s been great to visit the Tiny Forest, which is the first of its kind to be planted in the Black Country. Although the Tiny Forest may appear small, it’s clear that it will bring huge benefits to the local area. 

“Not only will the new trees be good for our environment by capturing carbon from the atmosphere and creating a habitat for wildlife, the forest will also give a great way for our local community, children and young people to get out into nature and receive a boost to their physical and mental well-being.”

Louise Hartley from Earthwatch Europe said: “We are delighted to be working with City of Wolverhampton Council and the OVO Foundation, to not only plant a Tiny Forest, but also to connect with local people and train volunteers to monitor this new space for nature in their community. 

“This monitoring day is an exciting opportunity to collect data that will feed into our national research project assessing the environmental and social benefits of a Tiny Forest. It’s a great example of how action at a local level can have national significance.”