7 March 2024

Construction underway on Queanbeyan's newest (and perhaps smallest) green space

| Claire Sams
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Two adults and a child standing at a worksite

Mitch Porteous is grateful for the community’s support of the Queanbeyan Micro-Forest, which began construction in late February. Photo: Supplied.

A community initiative to seed a new green space in the heart of Queanbeyan is a step closer to completion.

Mitch Porteous, co-founder and co-project lead of the Queanbeyan Micro-Forest alongside his wife Rebecca, said the start of construction works were long-awaited.

“It is incredibly rewarding to get to this point, because it has taken a lot of work from a lot of people to get here,” he said.

“The project has involved in-depth planning, crowdfunding, getting approvals, campaigning and working with contractors to create a space that is not only good for the environment, but also the local economy and the community.”

A micro-forest is a small area that is densely planted with a variety of plants to create a mini ecosystem.

Queanbeyan’s micro-forest is the latest project from the Climate Factory, a group working to create micro-forests across NSW and the ACT to reduce urban heat and build community connections.

Earthworks kicked off in late February at the site within Queanbeyan’s Blackall Avenue Park, setting up the micro-forest so it can capture and use rainwater.

“When we think of hotter and drier climates in the future, we need to make sure there’s enough water on-site for these trees and plants to survive,” Mr Porteous said.

“What’s being built now is quite a comprehensive water harvesting plan and overlay that involves various trenches and surface-level swales.

“Trees and other plants are planted directly on top of those, which is one of the key features driving the rapid growth of micro-forests.”

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Once the earthworks are completed, planting will begin, with the addition of rocks and other elements.

“We’ve also had some soil and organic matter donated from [Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council],” he said.

“That’s all been put in place and prepared, along with 30 cubic metres of mulch, ready for us to start planting.”

Mud map of forest

The first draft plan for the Queanbeyan Micro-Forest. Mr Porteous says support for (and work on) the project has continued to grow. Image: Supplied.

While work is progressing quickly on the Queanbeyan Micro-Forest, there are still opportunities for the community to get their hands dirty.

“We have two key planting days on 16 and 17 March,” Mr Porteous said.

“There is an open invitation to the community to join us for those.”

The micro-forest is expected to be completed in time for an official opening on 23 March.

“We’ll be kicking off at around 10 o’clock, and we’d absolutely love people to join us to get a sense of what the space will become,” Mr Porteous said.

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The Queanbeyan Micro-Forest project follows micro-forests that were established in several Canberra suburbs before the Climate Factory turned its eyes to Queanbeyan.

“My wife grew up in Queanbeyan and we moved back about two years ago after living in the ACT,” Mr Porteous said.

“We wanted to create a space in an underutilised park that will have all these environmental and economic benefits – and also on a community level where people can have a chance to champion how great the 2620 [postcode] is.”

He thanked the community, businesses and organisations that have supported the project, such as Carbon Positive Australia, the Property Collective, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, Wholesome Australia and Canberra Native Nursery.

As for those thinking of planting the seeds for a micro-forest in their suburb or town, Mr Porteous said everyone was welcome to reach out.

“We do have aspirations to build many, many more throughout the ACT area and hopefully, nationally,” he said.

“There are 133 suburbs in the ACT and we predict there could be two micro-forests in each suburb.”

Further information is available via the Queanbeyan Micro-Forest Facebook page or through their Instagram page.

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