In March we began planting Leeds’ first Micro Wood, inspired by the Miyawaki-style of forest. The concept came from Japan in the late 70s/early 80s and was named after Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. Miyawaki was trying to mimic the conditions of an ancient forest, creating something that would grow ten times faster than a normal plantation. Trees are planted tightly together to encourage competition and creates a fast-growing woodland. Our micro wood, which is Leeds’ first, will provide a noise and pollution barrier and will help to block the sound of the busy road beyond.

Work began in March 2024 at Bow Street in Leeds. We started by preparing the ground, digging down one meter, bringing in soil ameliorant, some green waste and well-rotted farm manure to create the rich growing conditions.

We planted 1,200 trees over two days with help from Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School, Richmond Hill Academy, Caval volunteers, a White Rose Forest member and Saxton Apartments Residents’ volunteers. Everyone enjoyed getting stuck in. Our volunteers and the students got a lot out of it and we’ve hopefully helped to get some custodians for the forest as it grows in the next few years.

The tree species are all locally sourced; There are 12 on a grid pattern and they’re all the trees that would have grown there before humans arrived. After three years the site doesn’t need to be maintained; It looks after itself! The trees talk to each other and all grow in harmony, which is going to be great.

We’re installing air quality monitors on the site, in front and behind the plantation to see what effect this heavily dense planting will do in terms of air quality. The site is at the side of the busy A61, which is a major road through Leeds. We’re working with Leeds University and their purple air sensors and also going to get the schools to come down and do some citizen science, monitoring the growth of the trees and acting as custodians of the space.

We’re going to put some interpretation signs up, a couple of picnic benches to transform the space for residents to use to come and relax once it’s established.

“I had a great day volunteering for Groundwork and I am grateful to have helped create a lovely green space in Leeds. The project team were friendly, knowledgeable and made it easy to get involved. Also, I enjoyed that I could learn about Miyawaki forests and their impact- especially as I was new to the concept.
Overall, it was a fun experience and I would be more than happy to volunteer again!”
Olivia Smith, Social Value Administrator, Caval Ltd  

“Thoroughly enjoyed a morning volunteering with Groundwork. The team were friendly and helpful and above all very hard working. It was nice to see other members of the community and also schoolchildren join us to pitch in for the local area. I would certainly be interested in volunteering again.”
Tom Hughes, Divisional Manager, Caval Ltd