Roosevelt Island transforms urban green space with 'pocket forest'

The endeavor aims to turn small areas into a vibrant oasis of biodiversity, offering numerous benefits for the environment and the community.

Edric Robinson

Apr 17, 2024, 11:38 PM

Updated 38 days ago

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Roosevelt Island is making strides in transforming urban green spaces with an innovative project known as a "pocket forest" ahead of Earth Day.
The endeavor aims to turn small areas into a vibrant oasis of biodiversity, offering numerous benefits for the environment and the community.
"We have over 47 species of trees and shrubs here," said Christina Delfico, founder of idig2learn, the organization spearheading the initiative.
Delfico explains that this project marks the city's first Miyawaki method pocket forest, a planting technique derived from a Japanese botanist.
“We put little trees really close together as babies. Their roots will communicate with fungal partners and it will shoot up into a forest in about three years,” said Delfico.
This method also amends the soil, which they say will enhance drainage during storms and prevent flooding.
The endeavor received substantial support from the community, with about 500 volunteers planting 1,500 native plants. Partnerships with organizations like SUGi, RIOC and the Lenape Center have been instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.
"What we're doing here is creating a forest with only 2,700-square-feet of of space, but it will be transformative for the area," emphasizes Bryant Daniels, communications director of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC).
The RIOC's grounds team will oversee the forest's care, with hopes that the project can serve as a model for other urban centers that can benefit.
Delfico says their team named the pocket forest, Manhattan healing forest.
“It is proven that when you’re in a green space, you feel better. You have a boost of health,” said Delfico
Looking ahead, Delfico emphasizes the importance of community involvement, announcing plans for "forest care days" hosted by idig2learn, where individuals can contribute to the project's maintenance and growth.
For those interested in learning more or getting involved, additional information will be available on its website.


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