Stepping Stone Forests

Stepping Stone Forest Logo


What are Stepping Stone Forests?

A Stepping Stone forest is small, densely planted forest using native species of trees and shrubs. Due to the dense nature of the planting the trees and shrubs grow very rapidly. Stepping Stone forests are inspired by a planting method first pioneered by world renowned botanist Prof. Akira Miyawaki.

How are they Different from other Forest Methods?

They are planted very densely with between one to five plants per each square meter. Once planted the ground is heavily mulched to help suppress weeds, retain moisture, and to maintain a more even ground temperature.

Why Plant Them?

Stepping Stone Forests provide natural oases for Irish wildlife. They also provide vital ecosystem services that greatly benefit us humans also.

These small dense mixed forests absorb more that 30 times more carbon than grass lawns and help to reduce global warming. The temperature within these forests is typically 2 degrees centigrade below the temperature around the forest.

Where are Stepping Stone Forests Planted?

They can be planted almost anywhere. We recommend that they are planted on existing areas of lawn in public parks, open spaces, school & college grounds, business campuses etc.

Regular mowing of these areas of grass maintains diminished biodiversity while the mowing machinery emits carbon.

When to Plant Them?

Stepping Stone forests are created by planting bare root trees and shrubs. All plants chosen are native to Ireland.

The optimum planting time in our climate for bare root plants is from October to March.

How to Plant Stepping Stone Forests?

Stepping Stone forests have been inspired by Japanese botanist Prof. Akira Miyawaki. The planting area is prepared by covering it with layers of cardboard, newspaper and wood chip mulch. Approximately six months later community volunteers or schoolchildren plant the trees and shrubs at a rate of three per square meter.

The only maintenance that is required is to ensure that the woodchip mulch keeps the weeds suppressed and if necessary add an extra layer of mulch occasionally. After three years the Stepping Stone forest is self-sustaining requiring no further human intervention.

Stepping Stone Forests in Schools

If your school has the space why not create a small forest on the grounds of you school?