Into the woods - a Pocket Forest comes to Trinity

Posted on: 17 October 2022

Professor Yvonne Buckley brought more biodiversity to campus last week in the form of a Pocket Forest - a small native forest planted in urban areas. Students and staff from across the University came together to prepare the soil for the new mini-forest, which is located outside the Parsons Building.

Into the woods - a Pocket Forest comes to Trinity

This idea originated from an organisation called Pocket Forests that reconnects people with nature as they work with communities to regenerate soil and plant young native trees and shrubs in an area as small as 6sqm or as large as 100 sqm.  “We’re excited to have a Pocket Forest on Trinity’s central campus as it will not only add soil, plant and animal diversity to our city centre campus, but it will enable us to study a whole network of Pocket Forests across Dublin and Ireland to see how biodiversity develops in different local contexts,” says Professor Buckley. 

Soil is a living ecosystem and soils globally host at least one quarter of all living organisms; they are like massive tropical rainforests or coral reefs. Healthy, biodiverse soils are critical to the functioning of the aboveground ecosystems like grasslands, peatlands and forests, but are often ignored because it is hard to appreciate what is going on below ground. While the underground biodiversity is largely invisible to us without microscopes and DNA sequencers, we rely on it for food security, to maintain our forests, regulate the climate and store carbon and water.

Once the new trees and shrubs on campus are established, they become part of the soil ecosystem and will form intimate associations with fungi and bacteria that live in the soil and that move nutrients between plants and soil pools. A high diversity of native plants, such as those planted in the Pocket Forests, will lead to higher soil biodiversity and will also attract different insect, bird and mammal species which use the trees and shrubs for food and shelter.

Professor Buckley adds “The time spent preparing our soil here on campus will result in better below-ground carbon storage and biodiversity by giving the soil organisms a variety of different materials to incorporate into the soil, cardboard, wood chips, compost and used coffee grounds all add something a bit different to the mix.”

Pocket Forests was founded by Ashe Conrad-Jones and Catherine Cleary. To date, they have planted 1800 trees in pocket forests in 50 locations around the country - 40 in urban areas, with the majority in the greater Dublin area. A further 35 Pocket Forests sites have been prepared and will be planted this winter.  Professor Buckley says “we are very conscious of being in the centre of Dublin and having a responsibility to improve habitats for urban biodiversity”. 

You can view the start of our Pocket Forest outside the Parsons Building.  To get involved, email



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