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green trees covered with fog during daytime

By Saish Bhise

In the age of globalization, climate change is still a hotly debated topic. Politicians, industrialists are busy denying what activists, environmentalists are trying to prove, that climate change is real. It is high time that the increasing natural forest cover should be emphasized, especially in India.

The decimation of forests started at the start of modern civilization. The pace was quickened with the onslaught of the British Empire in the subcontinent. Prior to World War 2, the demand for timber was sky-high. The imperial nations sought raw timber from colonies and used it to build ships to strengthen their naval force. This thirst for hoarding of resources also led military strategists to devise cunning military tactics. One of them was "The Scorched Earth Policy", as the name suggests, warring armies frequently burnt each other's stockpiles to cause shortages. This policy was implemented by the Dutch in Java against the invading Japanese. The retreating army of the Dutch burnt a huge stockpile of timber, giant oak trees, farms, granaries, forests etc so as to cause shortages for the Japanese.

To win the war over deforestation, the rate of afforestation needs to be quickened up. Here is where the Miyawaki afforestation method comes in handy. The Miyawaki afforestation technique is a unique method to create an urban forest. It is named after a Japanese botanist, Akira Miyawaki. This method facilitates the full growth of the forest within 20-30 years, which in conventional ways would have taken approximately 200-300 years. In this technique, various regional species are planted nearby to each other so as to receive sunlight only from the top, thus growing upwards instead of sideways. Through this process, the density of the plantation is approximately 30 times higher and growth is around 10 times faster. Which makes it maintenance-free after a span of 3 years.

Here is the list of basic steps to grow an urban forest with the help of the Miyawaki Technique.

STEP 1: Soil preparation

→ A fine combination of mulch, water retainers, fertilisers and microorganisms should be mixed with the pre-existing soil. Perforator materials like biomass, silt, rice husk, wheat husk, corn husk, flowers allow the plants to grow quickly. Water retainers like cocopeat, sugarcane stalk, mulch reinforce the soil's natural capacity to retain moisture.

STEP 2: Purchase of native species of plants

→ Prefer choosing native species of plants over exotic ones and then segregate them into evergreen, deciduous or perennial plants. Also, the native species of a region can be classified into four categories according to their height. The first category is that of shrubs that grow up to 6 feet, the second one includes trees that grow up to 25 feet in height, the third includes trees that grow up to 40 feet and the final, fourth category is the forest canopy which reaches an impressive height of 40 feet.

STEP 3: Designing of the forest

→ Plan a random but dense plantation of native species of plants that grow in assorted layers. Planting the same species of plants together should be avoided. The best practice is to plant 3-5 saplings per square meter. A repetitive planting pattern should be avoided at all costs. Once the saplings are planted, a thick layer of mulch, silt or alluvial soil should be evenly laid on the pre-existing soil to insulate the soil and improve its water retention capacity.

STEP 4: Watering and de-weeding of the plantation

→ Water the mini forest once a day and de-weed it regularly for the first 2 years. Usage of pesticides, inorganic fertilizers should be avoided completely. Monitor the forest regularly to check the growth, moreover do not attempt to prune the forests. In the end, in a forest, no management is the best management.

India's national forest policy states that approximately 33 per cent of the total geographical area should be under forest cover. The number has seen a steady increase over the past few years but it still lags momentum. As of 2020, only 24.56 per cent of India's total landmass is under forest cover. With the help of the Miyawaki Afforestation Technique, the target can be achieved within a decade.


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