LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- If big cities want a healthier environment, going small might be the solution. Micro forests are small dense patches of forest plants native to the location of the forest. And for the first time LAUSD is creating one at Mid-City's Prescott Elementary.
"This is the exact place that we need to be doing more and more of these. We need to be starting students from a very young age to understand ecology, especially in our urban centers," explains Katherine Pakradouni the owner of Seed to Landscape, and the project designer at Prescott Elementary.
A micro forest is truly that, a small version of an actual forest, complete with layers of life and decay. A little over a year ago, one was planted in Griffith Park where each layer creates a web of biodiversity that helps the other become healthier. And kids will get to see it up close in Mid City.
"They'll grow up thinking, 'OK a forest is more than just a tree' and maybe that will help trigger their thoughts about an ecosystem and how we can all contribute to the planet," says Helen Kim, who was helping plant at the school. Shannon Scrofano of Angelenos for Green Schools explains why this small effort could result in a huge impact. "There's over 1,100 schools in LAUSD; there's so much opportunity to pick a corner small or large and do this... put this living lab on campus and give the students access to a beautiful, restored environmental landscape... right there."
Micro-forests are meant to be hands off. Once planted, this site will be monitored for the first several years of growth to make sure it's healthy, but then it should grow at an estimated 10 times faster than normal forests. Prescott Elementary principal Dr. Raissa White sees learning opportunities everywhere for her students.
"There's multiple ways that we can use this whether it's a reading space or a science space where we're looking at the plants, watching their growth, calculating, predicting...there's all kinds of things that we could be doing."
The damage done to the environment over the last few hundred years can't be reversed in one act, but if millions of people want to small things really well, why not start with the smallest of us?
"Everybody's gonna be like woo-hoo this is amazing we don't have to be in the burning hot!" says a young planter named Beatrix. Addelyn De Cid is a fifth grader at the school and adds, "There's probably gonna be like a lot of bees, butterflies... a lot of little ants too and birds." And young Wyatt Nguyen points out the marketing aspect, "Because the micro forest is right behind the gate, so people are going to drive by and see the micro forest and they're probably going to think, 'oh I want to go to that school."
Young minds with big thoughts, because that's very much the mission for Pakradouni.
"When you have no exposure whatsoever to this kind of stuff it's very hard to get somebody to care...but when you put it on their campus at school, when you bring it to the urban center you're connecting it to them very, very viscerally."