As the earth’s green cover continues to shrink and global warming and climate change become more imminent, it’s more important than ever to be conscious of the fragile ecosystem we live in. Across the country, a growing number of individuals and organisations are adopting the Miyawaki method of afforestation, named after Japanese botanist and plant ecologist, Akira Miyawaki, who pioneered this method of growing dense urban forests on small patches of land. What’s unique about these forests is that they grow much more quickly compared to a conventional forest that may take over 100 years. Here’s an explainer on the Miyawaki forest, how to grow one and why this form of urban afforestation is gaining popularity in the country.
Who is Akira Miyawaki?
Born in 1928, Japanese botanist and ecologist Akira Miyawaki is one of the foremost experts on forest ecology and is responsible for spearheading the Miyawaki Method of planting forests. This was largely driven through his education and learnings of potential natural vegetation (PNV) and phytosociology (plant sociology). It was through this that he developed what has now come to be known as the Miyawaki method of producing naturally biodiverse forests. Miyawaki was also influenced by the chinju-no-mori or sacred forests surrounding Japanese shinto shrines and cemeteries, home to a variety of indeginous plants, that played a key role in his studies. Armed with these findings and his own expertise, he developed his signature method of planting forests.
What is a Miyawaki forest
Designed by Akira Miyawaki in the 1980s, these urban forests are grown using the Miyawaki method. Such forests can be grown in small patches in urban areas or even in your backyard, and typically make use of native or local seeds and saplings. What’s unique about this? These forests grow quickly in small areas and consist of densely packed trees and shrubs, ideal for cluttered urban landscapes. The plants and trees grow upwards towards the sunlight and the biodiverse forest also attracts fauna like butterflies and bees that are beneficial for the ecosystem.
What is the Miyawaki method
The first step begins with locating an area that is at least three to four meters wide and is well-exposed to sunlight, preferably eight hours or more. You then prepare the soil so that its composition is ideal for growth. Typically, perforators like wheat husk or corn husk are used for water to seep through the soil, along with cocopeat that helps the soil to retain moisture. Manure or organic fertilisers can also be used to make the soil fertile. The next step is choosing different varieties and native species of plant saplings for instance, neem, jamun or tamarind to create a biodiverse forest space. Ideally, different species of plants should be placed together so that no two saplings of the same species are planted together. The saplings should also be planted in a multi-layer fashion beginning with a shrub layer (up to six feet), followed by a sub-tree (up to 12 feet) and tree layer (up to 25 feet), and ending with a canopy layer (up to 40 feet). Saplings should be planted, maintaining an approximate 60-centimetre distance between them and should have bamboo sticks tied to them so they remain upright. Once everything has been planted, make sure to water the patch everyday.
Source: Do it Yourself guide by Afforestt via Citizen Matters
How many Miyawaki forests are there in India and where are they?
The Miyawaki Method is ideal for growing forests in a shorter period of about 20-30 years, including smaller green patches that grow in two years, unlike naturally-grown forests that may take more than 100 years to grow. These forests are known to be 30 times more dense, grow 10 times faster, have very little maintenance after two to three years of planting them, and don’t require too much space. It’s for all these reasons that this method is finding resonance with several individuals and organisations.