Since 10 November, you may have noticed the first few trees of the Science Gateway forest “springing up”: between now and April 2023, more than 400 trees will be planted around the five buildings that comprise CERN’s future education and outreach centre, which will open to the public in 2023.
The trees that make up the forest will be of different varieties and sizes* and between six and thirty years old. Many of them (374) will come from a German nursery that specialises in large trees. “The trees are transplanted at the nursery every four years to limit the development of their roots and get them used to the transplantation process. Their planting on the Science Gateway site will be their final move. For each transplantation – a delicate operation – a 9-m3 hole must be dug to ensure that the tree recovers well and develops optimally,” explains Frédéric Magnin, who is in charge of the Science Gateway construction. “Shrubberies, perennials and wildflower meadows will also be planted; by working on several levels – from the ground up to the highest branches – we hope to give the impression of a wild forest.”
The Science Gateway forest will have tangible benefits, notably for local fauna. “The medley of plant species will provide various kinds of habitat, fostering biodiversity,” says Frédéric Magnin. In the long term, the forest will also play a useful role in reducing global warming, doing its bit to fix atmospheric CO2 and limit heat islands, notably thanks to increased evapotranspiration and albedo (the amount of sunlight reflected by a surface).
* The forest will comprise eleven different tree varieties: sessile oak, Turkey oak, Dutch elm, common hornbeam, European hop-hornbeam, wild cherry, rowan, silver birch, field maple, Swedish whitebeam and Scots pine. The trees will measure up to 20 metres in height and their trunk circumference will range from 40 to 100 cm (measurement taken one metre from the base).