Downer Community Micro-forest Pilot

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

The earthworks occurred over one week in September 2020. The ground work included creating water harvesting trenches and a bog and resculpting existing mounds to trap rather than shed water. Then the soil was ripped and organics incorporated.

Earthworks were followed by four community working bees over 2020-2021 with 1800 native plants installed. Some of the Silver Wattles, Acacia dealbata, have grown from tubestock to three metres tall in seven months! Plants will be maintained by the local carer group set up as part of the project who are supported by the ACT Government.

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.

Amit Barkay, leader of the Downer Community Parkcare group 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.

And another 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 made possible by the support of: Service One, a 100% community owned bank, Light House Architecture and Science and 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.