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Micro Forests To Combat Climate Change As More People Move To Tampa Bay

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Nearly 1,000 people are moving to Florida every single day according to the Business Development Board in Florida and local nonprofits are working to combat climate change happening as a result of that rapid growth rate.

While most headed off to work Monday morning, dozens of Sarasota County residents met in the quiet community of Ellenton's Colony Cove. The goal: to paint the world a better place.

"Out here to do my part and network and talk to people about the environment, man," said volunteer Ky Miller who is also running for Sarasota County's Soil and Water Conservation District Seat 4. "I'm really loving it. It's a hot one but it's so worth it."

Their canvas: one and a half acres. And the paint: over 4,000 trees. The end result: a high-performance micro forest designed to quickly combat climate change happening right here in Tampa Bay.

"Everybody here is gravely concerned about the rate of development and it upsets them when they drive down a road to their house and they see 100 acres has just been clear cut," said Charles Reith, a Climate Scientist and manager of the project on site with Suncoast Urban ReForesters (SURF). "I'll tell you what.. we are destroying habitat very fast."

SURF is using green infrastructure to counteract that damage, fast by taking carbon out of the atmosphere where it's damaging as a greenhouse gas and put it into the soil where it benefits the ecology.

"Trees will grow exceptionally fast," said Reith.

"We are taking the soil samples and we're looking at the carbon content of it and we're going to come back a year or two later and see just how much carbon this forest has been pulling out for us," said Research Student with New College of Florida, Brittney Hall.

"With systems like this, we will preserve the bird life, pollinators, habitat for other animals,": sid Reith. "We're reestablishing nature right here. One of our goals is to find small parcels of land that, right now, are just mowed. We will plant these trees that are beneficial to the environment and eventually, work to revers climate change."

The concept of a micro forest was developed by a Japanese botanist explains Reith. "Akira Miyawaki and his whole goal was to create urban forests to do urban reforestation that produces a great deal of ecological benefit in a very small area."

Immediate tips on how you can help make a change to the environment include investing in an electric vehicle and in solar power for the home. "If you get an electric car, you can say you're driving on sunshine. That's very important, but that's also short-term improvements. Garden planting projects, especially with trees, that's a long-term solution," he explained. He also says if you know of an area of turf that is mainly mowed land with no plans for it, to begin the conversation around creating a micro forest.

To contact Charles Reith for future projects or questions about micro forests, he asks that you email him at

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