Santa Monica College to Plant First Microforest on a Community College Campus

 

April 18, 2024

Santa Monica College

(L-R): Scarlet Eskew (Malibu Foundation Grants/Program Manager), Lexi Davin (Native Plant Nursery Manager), Ferris Kawar (SMC Sustainability Director) and Anne Gaw (Communications Fellow) showcase some of the plants that will be part of Santa Monica College's microforest on its main campus.

Collaboration Between SMC, City of Santa Monica, and Malibu Foundation Showcases Innovative Method of Planting to Restore Nature in Urban Spaces

During Earth Week 2024, Santa Monica College (SMC) in collaboration with the City of Santa Monica and the Malibu Foundation will unveil a microforest on its main campus-the first one at a U.S. community college. The event will showcase the joint sustainability efforts of the three agencies. Microforests are densely-planted, multilayered indigenous forests planted in small urban spaces which act as self-sustaining ecosystems that reconnect fragmented habitat and restore biodiversity. The microforest will also provide research experience to SMC biology students.

This method of planting is being adopted all over the globe toestore nature in urban areas, where space is limited. See additional "notable facts" at the bottom.

During the event, the Malibu Foundation will be highlighting their Million Trees for Los Angeles County 2025 initiative which addresses extreme heat, droughts, landslides, and the severe loss of biodiversity.

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., Thursday, April 25

SMC Main Campus, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405 (see attached map for parking information)

Speakers for the microforest opening include (list may be updated closer to event):

• Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, Superintendent/President, Santa Monica College

• Evelin Weber, Executive Director and co-founder, Malibu Foundation

• Zachary Gaidzik, Coastal and Westside Field Deputy for Lindsey Horvath's office

• Dean Kubani, Malibu Foundation Senior Advisor and former Chief Sustainability Officer with the City of Santa Monica

• Ferris Kawar – Director of Sustainability, SMC

• Jessie Salter & Poliana Raymer – Professors of Biology, SMC

Media RSVPs required. Via email to Smith_Grace@smc.edu or a call to 310.434.4454 or 310.227.4542 by noon, Tuesday, April 23.

Additional Notable Facts About Microforests:

1. Benefits of microforests-in a small footprint-include:

• building soil,

• capturing stormwater

• mitigating heat,

• providing native habitats,

• improving biodiversity,

• sequestering carbon 2.5 x faster

2. [M]icroforests are tiny preserves that mimic natural woodlands - but grow nearly five times faster. Diverse plants of different heights are planted closely together, forming layers of vegetation from underbrush to flowering shrubs to understory and shade-giving overstory trees. Microforests sequester carbon two and a half times faster than conventionally grown landscapes.

3. The SMC microforest will only take up around 300 square feet, but that space will become a biodiverse habitat for the pollinating insects, birds and small animals that are so vital to our environment.

4. Plants chosen are native to the region, supporting the local environment rather than invading it, and they are also edible and medicinal. And as the forest's ecosystem becomes self-sustaining, its plants will need very little water.

Santa Monica College

5. These woodlands are low maintenance as well. Once the plants are up and healthy, the forest thrives on its own as an example of nature in action. As the bugs and worms feed, and bacteria breaks material down, more soil is made to feed growth.

6. The SMC microforest will provide layers of education and research experience for students. Students will evaluate the microforest's plant growth, examine how microbes feed and develop its soil, and study the insects and animals it attracts.

(L-R): Scarlet Eskew (Malibu Foundation Grants/Program Manager), Lexi Davin (Native Plant Nursery Manager), Ferris Kawar (SMC Sustainability Director) and Anne Gaw (Communications Fellow) showcase some of the plants that will be part of Santa Monica College's microforest on its main campus.

 

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