Chapter three – restorative forest

Restorative Forest circle. This city is in a state of constant change and evolution. New buildings are rising up from the rubble; repaired buildings reopen their doors. The people in the city rush from one milestone to the next. They celebrate and then  move on. They can’t stop. It’s a fast-track tram with people at each stop watching out for every second that it falls behind.

I stand here on the corner and watch the rushing. I watch the people that walk by, with their heads bent down looking at their phones. The executives that sup on takeaway coffee as they dash between meetings. The tourists who stop to look in shop windows of New Regent Street or ride those trams; taking photos and selfies and live-streaming videos of their travels. I stand. And watch. And give.

You may not notice what I give but you feel it. My presence alone impacts your spirit. Take a moment to sit with me and you will feel happier. Calmer; restored; momentarily refreshed. The oxygen I supply cleanses your blood and clears your mind. The sound of the wind in my leaves for a moment takes precedence over the constant hum of traffic. The cool shade I offer feels good on your hot skin.

You need me. You need the small green spaces close by to where you live and work and spend your day. You need large green spaces such as playing fields for sports or running or other physical activities as well as a place to interact with nature or to socialise with others in parks.

You need me for the numerous public health benefits, mental, physical and emotional. I help relax and reduce stress. I provide spaces for social interactions – a place to stop and sit and talk. I am the antidote for all those harmful side-effects of urban life – air pollution, noise and excessive heat. Small groups of trees in the city become stepping stones for wildlife to hop between. I make city streets more interesting, more beautiful, a place to linger and choose a slower pace. More desirable.

Notice me. I am more than a token green garnish on the sidewalk. I am important. I am a hint of what once was here – once a complete ecosystem of large trees, smaller ones, shrubs and ferns making up the many layers of a forest, making up a home or habitat for wildlife – birds and invertebrates. Houhere/lacebark, manatu/lowland ribbonwood, kowhai, korimako – you plant me in your city gardens and I flourish there as if I belong. It’s because I do belong; but I am restless; I’m waiting for you to notice.

Nature isn’t something apart from city life. Nature is a part of it. Include me in your plans. Create and restore green spaces amongst the buildings and on the streets. Give me a place in your city. I am restorative forest. You need me. I am here. Here I belong.

I am the restless forest.

Visit: #TheRestlessForest – the garden is currently in New Regent Street.

Visit Restorative Forests and restoration projects.

Colour #TheRestlessForest – download the colouring illustration, take a photo then share via Instagram or Facebook, using the hashtag #TheRestlessForest. Restorative Forest colouring sheet is coming soon.

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