Bringing nature into your town
The town of La Riche, in central France near Tours, was inspired by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki’s urban forests and decided to create one for its residents.
La Riche decided to plant over 600 trees and shrubs for their community to lower temperatures in dense areas and bring the nurturing elements of nature into an urban setting. To decide where to make the investment, they launched their online engagement platform and asked their 10,000 residents to choose their preferred location for the urban forest. During the voting process, a second location was so popular with residents that the City also decided to invest in a second green space by creating an urban orchard for the community.
The urban forest is intended to create a real island of shade and freshness. Six possible locations were offered for the people of La Riche to choose the location that seemed most appropriate to them.
The concept of "urban forest" devised by Akira Miyawaki involves a method of restoring native forests reproducing the mechanisms of natural forests. Its principle is based on a specific soil enhancement coupled with the dense planting of local species that become sustainable after three years of maintenance. The extension of this principle in urban areas consists in revegetating public spaces by planting a large amount of trees and shrubs, in order to recreate islands of shade and freshness.
And because the forest will be the citizens', La Riche wishes to involve volunteers (inhabitants, schoolchildren, elected officials, local associations, etc.) with the planting of 200 square meters of urban forest, or 600 trees and shrubs in autumn 2021 and maintenance thereafter. This will be done in fun and friendly ways.
The benefits of an urban forest are seen as:
Creation of natural spaces in the city
Creation of a habitat for fauna and flora
Wellness areas for locals
Fine particle filtering and CO2 capture
Lowering the temperature by 2 degrees nearby during heat waves
After a month of consultation and voting, the people of La Riche chose, from six locations, a site of 670 square meters located in front of the cemetery of the High Marches. This will now become a meditation garden, a real island of shade and freshness.
Also acclaimed by the voters, another space will also benefit from a development to meet a wish to revegetate the area. This space will become an urban orchard from spring 2022 on an area of about 800 square meters. Apple, pear, cherry, fig and other fruit trees will enhance the place by creating a real space for animation, socialization and awareness of respect for the environment that could also accommodate aromatic plants such as thyme, rosemary or mint.
Read more here.
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Geoff Knott, 28/09/2021