PSDS MiyawakiBioswale 18Sep23 01
Environmental engineer and advocate Thorsten Arnold shows his passion for the
Miyawaki tiny forest and bioswale demonstration project he designed to help manage
water runoff at Peninsula Shores District School in Wiarton. The biodiverse compact lush
regenerative greenspace was unveiled Monday, Sept. 18, along with new signage.


A soggy schoolyard turned into a minature forest over the summer, and yesterday it was unveiled by its designer, Thorsten Arnold, and the volunteers who helped put it all together.

It's a demonstration site for a concept melding the tiny forest principles of venerated Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki with an ancient drainage method, a bioswale – literally a living ditch – to regenerate urban wastelands and manage water runoff.

Regenerate Grey Bruce and The Sustainability Project share their enthusiasm in this media release:


A demonstration site for "regeneration" has now been nicely established in the back playground of Peninsula Shores District School (PSDS) in Wiarton, implemented by Regenerate Grey Bruce (RGB).

Envisioned by Thorsten Arnold and with the assistance of Greenbelt Foundation, Wiarton Rotary, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Lake Huron Forever alongside many community partners and volunteers, the Wiarton Miyawaki Tiny Forest and Bioswale are now both firmly rooted in earth that was once home to finely-manicured lawn.

Today, volunteers unveiled some of the new signage that is to be installed. Regenerate Grey Bruce is counting on this demonstration site to showcase regeneration techniques to the public and to show that many objectives can be accomplished at once with a "commitment to caring" for a forest ecosystem.


PSDS MiyawakiBioswale 18Sep23 01
Rows of annual native grasses help protect the saplings and shrubs
planted this summer in a tiny forest over a French drain. Runoff will be
stored in the bioswale instead of running onto the school's track field.
PSDS MiyawakiBioswale 18Sep23 01


"Regenerate Grey Bruce is a project that, when complete, is meant to spark an alliance of groups, and so this is a great chance to create trust and social capital between local organizations and people who are creating a brighter future," said Thorsten Arnold, project lead. "The site at PSDS encompasses much of what we're trying to convey with a commitment to care, some shared language, and some narrative building.

"The primary goal is to create an educational experience where students can see regeneration in action, one tangible example of agency we can have in the environmental crises we face," continued Arnold, "but we’re also planting here to demonstrate biodiversity regeneration to the larger community through RGB.

"If we choose to act, we can foster biodiversity in an urban landscape that is currently highly simplified (sod), strengthen a local community network, and offer a public space for workshops and ceremonies."


PSDS MiyawakiBioswale 18Sep23 01
New signage explains the concept and process
(Please click on the picture to enbiggen.)


 A guiding principle of Tiny Forests, in terms of design, is to create: 

    1. a canopy layer,
    2. a medium tree layer,
    3. a subtree layer and
    4. a shrub layer

… all from native species of plants, shrubs and grasses, to create complexity in a new forest ecosystem and give a lifeline to biodiversity.


PSDS MiyawakiBioswale 18Sep23 01
The regenerated area looks amazing now, and each coming season will add more magic.
PSDS MiyawakiBioswale 18Sep23 01


Biodiversity can, of course, be flora and fauna, but can also refer to essential living systems such as soil food webs, pollinators and mycorrhizal networks between trees.

In addition to demonstrating solutions to biodiversity and climate crises, the co-benefits of what's been designed in Wiarton also include:

  • demonstrating a natural or "green infrastructure" stormwater management opportunity; a bioswale just below the rear paved lot
  • resolving an issue with soggy turf in the ditch next to the school's running track
  • creating some shady spots for hot days
  • demonstrating the impact of volunteerism to kids
  • creating a new sitting space to watch the sports field
  • a climate science educational opportunity, and
  • linking land use, nature, and planetary boundaries concepts to our traditional climate action, to create agency in rural areas and with youth.


PSDS MiyawakiBioswale 18Sep23 01
Thorsten Arnold indicates how high the protective rows of annual grasses will grow.


New signage and curriculum resources will help educate visitors to the demonstration site, and integrate this project with curriculum learning.

More information about the Wiarton Miyawaki Tiny Forest and Bioswale is available at (unsecured site - Ed.) and a mini-documentary of its planting can be found here.

The organizers encourage others to add photos to the collaborative Google photo album of the demonstration site to the qualitative observations being documented.



– photographs by Hub staff
David Galway


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