NYC’s first ever mini forest coming to Roosevelt Island

New Yorkers will soon be able to see a forest through the concrete jungle.

The Big Apple will welcome its first-ever mini forest this spring when a planting initiative that’s been blooming across the globe takes root on Roosevelt Island.

Dubbed the Manhattan Healing Forest, the small patch of land on the southern tip of the island between Manhattan and Queens will be the first of its kind in the city, featuring more than 1,000 different native plants, according to its creators at the SUGi Project.

It will only be about 2,700 square feet — or slightly smaller than a tennis court — but has substantial ecological benefits, project leaders said.

“We’re an island. We think about flooding, we think about storm surge, and the best treatment is to plant a tree,” Christina Delfico, founder of nature nonprofit iDig2Learn, which is helping to lead the project, told the New York Times

“The roots will stabilize the land. With good soil, there won’t be flooding. The concrete jungle needs pocket forests,” she added.

The mini forest will be planted in Roosevelt Island’s Southpoint Park. SujiProject/Instagram
The Manhattan Healing Forest will be about 2,700 square feet. SujiProject/Instagram

The forest will be carefully constructed using the Miyawaki Method, named for the famed Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, which has become immensely popular for creating lasting ecosystems in urban environments.

Through the process, the land is first stripped and a foundation of compost and mulch is laid down. Next, native trees and shrubs are planted close together, promoting rapid plant growth, according to The Times.

Miyawaki-based forests become self-sufficient in as little as three years and reach full maturity in just a matter of decades, proponents say. 

It provides a habitat for insects and wildlife and helps filter the air in addition to a respite from hectic city life for locals.

There will be 40 species and more than 1,000 plants in the Manhattan Healing Forest coming to Roosevelt Island. SujiProject/Instagram
Planting is scheduled to begin on April 6. SujiProject/Instagram

“With its diverse array of flora and fauna, Manhattan Healing Forest serves as a miniature lung for Manhattan, providing habitat for migratory birds, butterflies, and a variety of urban wildlife,” SUGi said in an announcement this week.

“From the bustling activity of squirrels to the majestic presence of peregrine falcons and red-tailed hawks, the forest teems with life and vitality. The forest is a haven for humans and wildlife alike.”

The Manhattan Healing Forest will be the 200th completed by SUGi. The foundation will cover the costs — which are typically about $200 per 10 square feet, according to The Times. 

Miyawaki-inspired pocket forests have popped up in cities across Europe, Asia and South America. Closer to home, they’re found in Los Angeles and Cambridge, Mass, too.

Some 40 species of flora are planned for the forest, including white oak, Virginia strawberry, butternut, New York fern and eastern white pine.

The forest will be planted in Roosevelt Island’s Southpoint Park on an unused garden bed leased from the city by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, according to The Times.

Community volunteers are scheduled to begin planting on April 6.

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