Downer Community Micro-forest Pilot

The landscape plan for the weedy park centred on three key principles – water harvesting, habitat and nature play. These principles were voted by the community as the most important aspects of the park redevelopment along with the micro-forest.

The earthworks occurred over one week in September 2020. The ground work included creating 26 lineal metres of water harvesting trenches and a 6m2 bog. Existing mounds were resculpted to trap rather than shed water. Then the soil was ripped and organics incorporated. Groundwork was followed by four community working bees over 2020-2021 with 1800 native plants installed by hundreds of volunteers.

Some of the Silver Wattles, Acacia dealbata, a locally occurring native, grew from tube stock to three metres tall in seven months!

The success of Downer has inspired the Watson, Holt, Casey and Pearce micro-forest projects. And Edwina Robinson, Founder of The Climate Factory created an 8 step process to help others build community micro-forests.

Plants are maintained by the local volunteer group led by Amit Barkay. Amit when asked what he liked about Canberra’s first micro-forest said:

I like the fact that it brought the community together more than I envisaged, everyone coming to help, kids, young and old. And the fact that the place has changed in a matter of six months. To the point, that two weeks ago there was a couple who just came with a picnic table and glasses and a bottle of wine, to cuddle on the bench just over there. It was absolutely lovely.

Volunteer, Adriana Boisen added:

I love that it brings everyone together. It’s just a really nice day with the local community and it’s a really nice feeling of accomplishment seeing little trees you’ve planted a few months ago, grow so much.

The 1300th plant went in the ground during Working Bee 3. Image: Gary Marshall.

Downer Community Micro-forest in the News

Micro-forest’ plan to cool compacted Downer park, CityNews.com.au

Water harvesting project to help turn Downer into green space, RIOTACT

Major support for micro-forest project in Downer, RIOTACT

This project was sponsored by: Service One, Light House Architecture and Science, Federation Financial and the community. Provincial Plants donated plants and Thor’s Hammer donated a recycled timber bench and funds to support planting an additional 300 tubestock.