How to Create Urban Rainforests

Four Parts:Finding a LocationFunding the ProjectDesigning Your RainforestsMaking It Happen

Many cities have undeveloped or unused land that could be used to create green space for the community. An urban rainforest can provide a fun and relaxing place for people to meet and share in enjoyment of nature. While rainforests are probably more likely in tropical environments or in greenhouses, you can create a green oasis in any climate that will draw people to nature and each other.

Part 1
Finding a Location

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    Consider geography and climate. Some locations may not let you to have a rainforest, especially very cold climates. Consider the limitations (and opportunities) of where you live when planning your urban rainforest.
    • Determine your city’s geographical region. Mountainous regions may require a different landscape design than flatter areas. Consider local plants in addition to more typical rainforest plant life. [1]
    • Know the best plants for your climate. If you live in a colder region, choose plants that can survive in that climate. [2]
    • Plan an enclosed greenhouse if you want to choose a more tropical rainforest theme in a colder geographical location. However, realize that this will be more expensive. [3]
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    Weigh practicalities. Know both the big picture and small details that make up your urban rainforest.
    • Consider your visitors. Make sure your urban rainforest is a fun and safe space for everyone.
    • Design your urban rainforest to be child-friendly and accessible. Try not to keep anyone from enjoying your hard work.
    • Insure your rainforest. You want to protect yourself and your visitors in the case of injury. [4]
    • Follow through on safety measures. Staying safe is always better than regretting it later.
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    Create a budget. Know how much money you need for your urban rainforest. Try to plan out every expense you will have designing it, building it, and running it.
    • Know the prices for plant life. Look into the type of plant life you want on your urban rainforest. Some plants may be expensive, so you may want to look at other options.
    • Estimate cost of structures and exhibitions. Look at the price of construction materials as well as labor for building any structures or exhibitions you may want.
    • Price animal and animal care. Know how much each different animal you may want costs. Keep in mind that you will have ongoing costs for their food and shelter as well.
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    Seek free or donated land. Don't buy the land yourself. Find people and institutions that can donate land for your urban rainforest.
    • Scout locations in your city. Find any vacant lots to see if that land is being used. [5]
    • Check in with the city government or local neighborhoods to see if any land is available to develop into an urban rainforest. They may be looking for ways to improve unused land.[6]
    • Be open-minded about how big or small your project may be. Think about how your idea can fit into different plots of land.

Part 2
Funding the Project

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    Apply for grants. Grants offer regular funding from the government or local charities. They can keep your urban rainforest continuously funded.
    • Find available grants for your project. Ask other local green spaces where they found grants.
    • Look at government website such as the Environmental Protection Agency, and Parks and Recreation to find potential grants. There are plenty of grants every year that go unclaimed [7]
    • Write grant correctly. Know what the granting agency wants included. Consider hiring or consulting a grant writer to make sure you do it correctly.
    • Be specific and detailed in your grant regarding your plans for the urban rainforest. Include a budget and timetable.
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    Find business partners. Talk to local businesses about how your urban rainforest will help out the local community
    • Contact local business to see if they would be willing to donate labor or materials. Offer them acknowledgement once your urban rainforest opens.
    • Discuss with local businesses the increased customer base due to your urban rainforest. Emphasize to them about the increased property values you imagine your urban rainforest will bring.
    • See if local businesses will help sponsor events once your urban rainforest is open. They may also offer volunteers to work these events.
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    Ask for community donations. Think about fundraising in the community and asking for individual contributions.
    • Get community support. Talk to the city government about participating in events to raise awareness of your project.
    • Consider holding a meeting or town hall to get input from people in your city. Ask them what they want out of an urban rainforest.
    • Sell benches, bridges, or bricks as memorials to community members. Offer your community the ability to buy memorials at your rainforest to honor their family members and friends.
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    Seek out investors. Show how your project will help to give back to the community.
    • Research other local green spaces or public parks to see who has invested in those locations. Contact those businesses for a meeting.
    • Make a firm and detailed plan for your urban rainforest. Tell them where their money would be going. Give them a proposed budget for start-up costs, maintenance, and special events. Have a realistic timetable for completion of your project.
    • Plan to meet with multiple investors to procure enough funding for your urban rainforest. Be grateful for any contribution. [8]
    • Focus on how the urban rainforest will benefit your investors. Offer public acknowledgement such as naming buildings after large donors.

Part 3
Designing Your Rainforests

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    Consult engineers, architects, or landscapers. Designing the space of your urban rainforest can be difficult. Discuss with experts on the best way to design it.
    • Talk to engineers about the best way to organize your urban rainforest. Make sure your space is well constructed for all structural challenges.
    • Refer to architects regarding best building materials. They may suggest the best type of wood for building structures and exhibitions. [9]
    • Converse with landscapers about the best layout of your plant life. Listen to their suggestions about where each plant should go.
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    Consult horticulturalists. Know the best way to take care of your plant life. Keep in mind the best plants to choose for your climate and geography.
    • Learn what plants work best in your climate. If you have a greenhouse, a variety of plants may work. Otherwise, keep in mind your local climate and weather.
    • Know how to best provide for the needs of your plant life.
    • Adjust your expectations. Recognize that you may not be able to build a lush, tropical rainforest if your climate and geography does not allow for it.
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    Start construction. Create walking paths through the urban rainforest. Build all building and structures while also keeping in mind maintenance and staff needs.
    • Think about maintenance and staff needs. Know your labor needs for constructing the urban rainforest. Keep in mind any upkeep you may have in the future as well.
    • Build in paths. Make sure the paths are wide enough to accommodate all visitors
    • Erect buildings or structures. Construct your buildings so they can be reached by paths.

Part 4
Making It Happen

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    Have a groundbreaking ceremony. Invite local businesses, investors, and community members to celebrate this special day.
    • Invite the local press. Have them take pictures of any ribbon-cutting ceremony. Get pictures with investors or local dignitaries.
    • Ask someone to come speak at your groundbreaking ceremony. Try to get someone interested in your project to talk about its importance.
    • Offer free food and entertainment. Show the community all the fun your new urban rainforest will offer.
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    Get the community involved with special “planting days”. Make sure they stay in touch with your urban rainforest and its changing needs.
    • Theme your special planting days based on the calendar. Offer visits by the Easter bunny when planting during the spring time.
    • Make “planting days” fun. Play music, dance, and have a good time.
    • Thank your volunteers. Tell them their hard work is appreciated.
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    Offer internships or volunteer opportunities to students. Talk to local high schools and colleges about offering internships for their students.
    • Talk to local environmental agencies about finding students interested more in your urban rainforest.
    • Find nearby high schools to see if clubs or sports teams need volunteer hours.
    • See if local colleges have internships for students learning how to run and maintain green spaces. Try to get your urban rainforest on their list of approved spaces.
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    Stay optimistic. You will likely experience many setbacks during your project. Don't get discouraged and try to keep positive.
    • Realize that starting an urban rainforest is a lot of work and will take longer than you imagine.
    • Stay focused on the positive impact your urban rainforest will have. Remember that you are trying to do something good for your local urban environment whether you are trying to foster community engagement, stimulate education, or encourage new interests,
    • Be realistic. Nothing happens overnight and your dream for the urban rainforest may be ambitious. Improving your community is a worthwhile endeavor.

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Categories: Biodiversity | Environmental Awareness