Micro Forest at the Edwardsville Children's Museum

Since opening our discovery garden in 2018, Edwardsville Children’s Museum has helped kids grow their love of the great outdoors through free play and exploration.

But what will the futures of our little adventurers look like as the climate crisis grows and the world’s forests disappear before their eyes? While fighting deforestation requires a global effort, there is something we can do to affect real change in our neck of the woods.

Through the Edwardsville Children’s Museum Micro Forest project, we’re bringing the community together to build a better world for our kids, one tree at a time.

view inside the micro forest

What is a Micro Forest?

Micro forests, or Miyawaki forests, are miniature urban woodlands grown on empty brownfield sites. When a variety of trees native to Illinois are planted closely together, the saplings mature into a diverse ecosystem in just 20 years compared to the 200 years it can take a forest to regenerate on its own.

Benefits of a micro forest:

Stimulates Biodiversity

Micro forests are home to 20 times as many species as non-native, managed forests, including different pollinators, songbirds, and plants.

Improves Air Quality

Because trees in the micro forest grow faster, they absorb more carbon dioxide from the air than forests grown for timber.

Manages Stormwater

The dense canopy of micro forests slows water runoff, helping to decrease water pollution and prevent flooding.

Help the ECM Micro Forest Flourish

ECM staff and volunteers planted 150 native trees in March of 2021. We added 250 native seedlings in April of that same year. We will continue to add native trees each year, over the next 12 years, to grow the greenspace into a two-acre forest preserve by 2033. ECM has also added a pollinator patch to the site. Seeds were planted there in November of 2021. 

ECM hosts volunteer days every October and March for weeding, tree protection, and maintenance and always welcomes help.

Please contact the ECM Director, Kristen Fries, at [email protected] to be added to our volunteer list.

micro forest work being carried out
entrance to part of the museum

Connecting Kids to Nature

As part of our mission to stimulate curiosity and cultivate learning at the age of wonder, ECM will tie the Micro Forest into our Phillips 66 STEM Forest Exhibit.

This hands-on exhibit brings the outside indoors, giving kids the chance to create their own woodland creatures, explore our Canopy Tree House, and discover steps they can take to protect our natural ecosystem. Plus, their caregivers can learn more about the ECM Micro Forest as well as selecting the perfect native trees for their own homes!

Sustainability Partner Donation

$1000  Sustainability Partners make it possible to maintain our forest by supporting our infrastructure, adding new trees, and fighting invasive species.  Sustainability Partners will be recognized on social media and in our annual report.

Tree Sponsor Donation

$50 Tree Sponsors help our forest grow!  This donation level covers the cost of the planting of one native Illinois tree in the ECM Micro Forest.  Sponsors will receive a certificate with the name of their choice as recognition for their generosity.

Citizens Science Project

We are thrilled to announce that we were awarded funding from Phillips 66 for Citizen Science Research at the site. We have three research projects planned: 

  • Family Firefly Nights – kids and parents work together to count fireflies
  • Creating Little Birders – little ones will learn to identify and count different bird species
  • Buds, Leaves, & Global Warming – middle school students will study the effects of climate change on the growth of the forest
trees being planted in the micro forest
Skip to content