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Breaking Ground on Stepping Stone Forest

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Congratulations to Litter Mugs for initiating the Stepping Stone Forest in Sean Welsh!

I am so excited to work with Litter Mugs and South Dublin County Council on creating a Stepping Stone Forest in Sean Welsh. We broke ground on December 5th beginning the process of building what will become a great community park! Thank you so much to Tallaght Echo and South Dublin County Council for providing the materials necessary. And endless thanks to all of the amazing community members who came out to work with us to prepare the ground, we couldn't do it without you! A Stepping Stone Forest is an amazing eco park which I am so excited to bring to Dublin.

More about Stepping Stone Forests:

Stepping stone forests are small, dense, fast-growing forests designed to grow in urban areas. They utilize native species of plants, shrubs, and trees in order to quickly create natural refuge within cities.

These forests use methods created by international award-winning botanist, Prof. Akira Miyawaki. Miyawaki mini forests can be seen across Europe in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the UK and Germany. The Miyawaki method allows forests to grow 30 times denser, 100 times richer, and 10 times faster than a standard forest. Stepping stone forests should be at least 100 square metres in size and are very densely planted with 3-5 saplings planted per square metre.

There are 4 steps to a successful Stepping Stone forest:

1. Soil analysis and appropriate plant selection: soil must be analyzed in order to assure optimum conditions for plant growth and native plants must be selected.

2. Soil Preparation and enrichment: appropriate levels of natural soil enhancement and enrichment are added to ensure optimal growth.

3. Shrubs and trees are planted by local volunteers: involving local volunteers helps to create environmental awareness within the community.

4. Forest maintenance for the first 3 years: the forest needs minimal maintenance, including mulching, watering and weeding, for the first 3 years, after which it becomes entirely self-sustaining.

The Stepping Stone Forest will have a multi-stratum ecosystem with 4 layers of plant growth. The first layer is the shrub layer, consisting of smaller plants, followed by the sub-tree layer, then the tree layer, and finally the canopy layer. As the forest grows these layers will appear, thus creating a very dense forest. Within 20 years of planting a Stepping Stone forest the characteristics and growth of the forest will represent that of a 100-year-old forest.

Benefits of the Stepping Stone forests include, 30 times more CO2 absorption than a lawn or grassland, 100 times more Biodiversity, a strong root system which will assist in soil stabilization in the case of floods or dry periods. Additionally, it creates a natural sound barrier, air conditioner, and aids in a global cooling effect.

The park in South Dublin will be 200SqM and will significantly enhance the biodiversity of the Green Infrastructure of South County Dublin by replacing manicured grassland that environmentalists often term as ‘green deserts’. The planting for a Stepping Stone Forest allows for a sense community involvement & activity leading to tangible & and long-lasting outcomes.

I am so excited to be a part of this project! If you want to join us for the next planting in March follow @LitterMugs on twitter, I hope to see you there!

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