The landscape plan for the weedy park centred on three 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 and Queanbeyan 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.
Downer Community Micro-forest in the News
Micro-forest’ plan to cool compacted Downer park, CityNews.com.au
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 extra 300 plants.