Recreation and Parks Commission Greenlights Greystone ‘Tiny Forest’

The Beverly Hills Recreation and Parks Commission greenlit plans for a “tiny forest” on the grounds of Greystone Mansion during their most recent meeting on March 26. The project is a part of efforts to increase green space and reduce emissions, according to City Arborist Ken Pfalzgraf. It is still in its early stages and will require final approval from the City Council. 

“We talked about how to educate the public, how do we get them involved in moving forward and getting excited to make changes to the city with these green initiatives,” Recreation and Parks Commissioner Tara Riceberg said. “What could be a better location than Greystone? It pulls at all of our heartstrings.”

City staff have received a proposal to partner on the project with Moët Hennessy, part of the French conglomerate LVMH. The process of creating the tiny forest would involve densely planting at least 25 different species of trees native to the region. The area will be fenced off for two years so that falling leaves and branches could form a layer of mulch that would encourage microbial growth. 

The trees will grow without significant human intervention for 10 years, allowing the strongest specimens to thrive while others die off. The surviving growth should develop into a self-sustaining mini ecosystem of trees vertically inhabiting four different canopy levels.

The plot at Greystone Mansion is an ideal location for a tiny forest because it’s frequently accessed by the public, but not close to homes and businesses. The tiny forest will occupy as much as 3,000 square feet of a 9,000-square-foot strip of land immediately south of the mansion. Over time, it will also shade the historic building from harsh sunlight.

Commissioner Myra Lurie asked Pfalzgraf for more information about Moët Hennessy’s involvement, and whether the tiny forest project might have other opportunities for “sponsorship.” But overall, she and the other commissioners present at the meeting were supportive of the plan, ultimately recommending it for consideration by the City Council. 

Historically, Greystone Mansion had been surrounded by fragrant eucalyptus trees, Pfalzgraf said. Those tend to drop large branches or even uproot and topple over during storms, becoming a hazard. So many were removed in recent years to avoid injuries.

The trees of the tiny forest should be much heartier than the eucalyptus groves that once grew around Greystone. They will also add a touch of color to the region, with some species developing red or gold-hued foliage, Pfalzgraf said. He suggested that the project could make the mansion a more attractive location for filmmakers, potentially adding to the city’s revenue and publicity.

Greystone is just one of several locations the city is considering for the installation of tiny forests. Others include parks and other open spaces, as well as an unused plot in the Cabrillo Reservoir in the Coldwater Canyon Area. 

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