Profile: Stefan Scharfe (left) and Lukas Steingässer (right)
Organization: Wald der Vielfalt
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
What was your personal motivation to plant your first forest?
Lukas: Shubundu’s TED Talk on how to grow a Tiny Forest has been the inspiration for our project. I studied Forest Ecosystem Management and the idea of actually designing and creating a forest according to socio-ecological needs has always been very appealing to me. I strongly believe that education and hands-on experience are the most important factors in building ecological awareness. Therefore I see immense potential in the idea of Tiny Forests, since I feel that the disconnection from nature is the single biggest problem of our time.
Stefan: Exactly, we feel a strong urgency to make a change so next generations live on a healthy planet and are connected with nature!
Can you describe the surroundings of your first forest, what type of place did you convert?
Lukas: we planted our first forest on a private property of a friend of ours, which is located in the countryside of North-East Germany. Back in the days it used to be agricultural land and was all covered with grass. Now the roughly 700m2 land is covered with 2300 trees!
What were the biggest obstacles in planting this forest?
Lukas: figuring out what were the appropriate prices for this project and which people were honestly interested in helping us were the most time-consuming steps. The Corona lockdown almost resulted in the cancelation of the whole project, but we luckily finished the project just two days before. We were astonished by the amount of help we got from all sides, proving once again that things fall into place when you do it with the right intention.
Who did you cooperate with? How did the local community respond to the forest?
Lukas: we cooperated with the University for sustainable Development (HNEE), several other tiny forest projects as well as Daan from IVN who could answer a lot of questions and turned out to be super supportive. We were lucky to be in the perfect academic environment to realize such a project. Counting in everyone who supported us financially, with their free work or experience, over 250 people were involved in the process. The local community was quite interested in the project, sadly not as many people as planned could join us on the planting day due to the Corona virus.
What did you learn from your first forest?
Stefan: I learned that it is good to think and act big in order to change something! We experienced that it is truly possible to make an idea reality within such a short time period. Also, it is amazing to see, how many people supported our project financially or with manual help.
Lukas: Yes, the biggest step is to get from talking to actually doing something. I learned quite some lessons on how to coordinate many people. There are so many people out there who are happy to help with projects like these, it just takes a few persons to initiate it.
What is the next thing you want to learn about forest making?
Stefan: creating different forest designs and knowing how to plant forests in different locations. Also, I would love use my pedagogical skills and plant forests with children to facilitate their connection with nature.
Lukas: Forestry is such an incredibly broad field! I would love to learn more about the use of specific Mycorrhiza to kick start Tiny Forests even better. I also would love to collect more data around the ecosystem services those systems provide, in order to be able to promote the usage of Tiny Forests in urban landscape planning.