A proposal for an environmental treeworks

Forest-4-1 is a collaborative, environmental project that relate an average UK individual’s greenhouse gas emissions to the woodland they would need to plant and maintain to support or offset their emissions over their lifetime. It is intended to provide the visitor with a visual sense of the scale of the challenge required to reverse climate change while encouraging human-nature connectedness through productive tree planting.

On just over half a hectare site, trees will be planted by volunteers in a pattern that will encourage the visitor to walk into the centre of Forest-4-1 where there will be a space to contemplate on the human impact on our environment and the importance and benefits of trees.

The Research

In Wytham Woods, continuous measurements of CO2, water and energy fluxes are made from towers above the canopy and forest biophysical variables have been established using airborne and ground based laser scanning technologies. The size and number of trees of Forest-4-1 are based on the research findings from the 2009 paper Initial Results from Establishment of a Long-term Broadleaf Monitoring Plot at Wytham Woods, Oxford, UK and the 2022 UK figures from the EDGAR Greenhouse gases per capita emissions report. I've used the UK figures but the project can be scaled to fit any country.

The Treeworks

Ideally, to increase biosecurity and minimise the carbon footprint of the project, the trees to be used as part of the Forest-4-1 treeworks should be trees grown from seed as locally as possible.

Forest-4-1 is arranged in a circular form to act as a focal point in the Landscape and is planted around a central and also circular atrium space that is intended as a discussion and education space for net zero conversations. Pathways leading to the central space creates a sun pattern when seen from above. 

Forest-4-1 is divided into five tree sections, separated by paths. This design can be used to divide the project into five tree planting events and also to create five distinct sections, each using a different primary tree species guided by the soil type, water, wind and landscape topography.

Community Engagement

A large part of the project is to engage with the community in the planting and caring for the Forest-4-1 with the added opportunity to talk about trees, soil and mycelium and their importance in the ecosystem. It is also an opportunity to give children and adults with challenging backgrounds and stressful lives the benefits that working with nature can give. A certificate for each tree planter can be handed out to emphasise the achievement and encourage continuing engagement and care for [their] tree.

The Atrium Artwork

Having a sculpture in the central atrium space of the Forest-4-1 would give the visitors an added purpose for walking into the heart of the forest. The sculpture for the central atrium space would be a sculptural seat for and representation of one person with the aim of emphasising the scale of the woodland vs one person and encouraging environmental discussions.

The legacy piece will be Forest-4-1 itself that would continue as an outdoor living and evolving installation, lasting for several generations to come.