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Worcester Announces Miyawaki Forest, CoolPocket Locations

For Immediate Release: 3/5/2024 5:04 pm

WORCESTER, Mass. – The City of Worcester Department of Sustainability and Resilience (DSR) announced Tuesday sites for the planting of two pilot Miyawaki Forests scheduled for completion by the end of June. DSR also announced locations for the design of two community place-making spaces known as CoolPockets.

Miyawaki forests are named after Japanese botanist Dr. Akira Miyawaki, who developed a method of creating fast-growing native forests that are densely arranged and multi-layered. The forests are known to help with carbon dioxide absorption and managing stormwater run-off. The urban forests are designed to address sustainability challenges in densely populated areas.

The first Miyawaki Forest is approximately 6,400 square-feet and will be planted in a segment of the McGrath Parking Lot adjacent to the Worcester Public Library at 3 Salem Sq. The forest area will also feature 1,000 square-feet of community gathering space. The second Miyawaki Forest is 8,000 square-feet and will be planted in Plumley Village at 16 Laurel St. and be accompanied by a 3,000 square-foot community picnic area.

In addition to planting the two Miyawaki Forests, DSR is working on the design of two CoolPockets, which are shaded retreats that combat urban heat effects, at Columbus Park Elementary School and a section of Vernon Hill Park. Additional funding will be sought for their construction through the next available round of the State of Massachusetts’ Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program.

“The Worcester Miyawaki Forests and CoolPockets project is a step forward in promoting environmental stewardship and community well-being,” said City Manager Eric D. Batista. “These projects symbolize an opportunity to strengthen our city while fostering connections among its diverse residents. Our commitment to community engagement is essential to the project’s success.”

Consultant Guillermo Creamer, Jr. will serve as the project’s Community Liaison to foster community engagement and education on tree planting and resilience-building practices. As community involvement is key to the planning and planting process, Creamer will serve as a vital link between the project and Worcester residents, facilitating communication, education, and public participation throughout the endeavor.

Funding for both projects comes from a state Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness action grant, which provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to plan for climate change resiliency. Miyawaki Forests and CoolPockets are key components of Worcester’s strategy to mitigate climate change impacts such as air quality deterioration, urban heat islands, and flooding. All four locations are in Environmental Justice areas of the city, home to vulnerable populations that experience excessive heat due to lack of trees and other sources of shade.

BSC Group and Bio4Climate are consulting on planning, design, and implementation of the Miyawaki pilot sites, and BSC Group is designing the CoolPockets.

To learn more about the project, upcoming community events, and opportunities for involvement, visit the Department of Sustainability and Resilience website at

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