June 15, 2023

Pocket Forests Transforming Urban Areas

In urban areas all around the world, there is a growing movement of creating “pocket forests” to create thriving green spaces that communities can share and enjoy. In addition to improving air quality and cooling surrounding areas, urban tree canopies provide important social and aesthetic benefits by beautifying city neighborhoods and creating stronger bonds with nature.

For these reasons, Alcoa Foundation has partnered with the Sustainable Poços Association (APS) to restore small fragments of native forest in the city of Poços de Caldas, Brazil, through the Pocket Forest Project.

“The pocket forest represents a better quality of life and gives us a very beautiful view," said Sebastião Alves Ferreira, director of the Poços de Caldas Botanical Garden. "It helps maintain our neighborhood’s temperature and humidity at close to the ideal, and there is a balance between the concrete and beauty of the green surrounding us. The pocket forest is essential for us."

All 30 tree species planted in the pocket forests are native to the Atlantic Forest, where Poços de Caldas is located. These species include floss silk, guava and yellow ipê, which is a national symbol of Brazil. In addition to trees, some pocket forests feature walkways, benches, and other leisure and sports infrastructure.

Our partnership has resulted in eight pocket forests planted by community members and Alcoa volunteers between December 2017 and February 2023, ranging in size from 0.05 hectares (0.12 acres) to 0.8 hectares (2.0 acres).

“The place where my neighborhood’s pocket forest is located had been abandoned and filled with bush,” said Sebastião. “Community members received the pocket forest with joy. They feel that they have won back their own space. Everyone is now concerned about the forest’s upkeep and ensuring no one breaks a branch or cuts down a tree.”