Can the Miyawaki Technique Help Cure Mother Nature?
A better model for reforestation
What is the Miyawaki Method?
Miyawaki’s method comes from a famous Japanese botanist and plant expert — Professor Akira Miyawaki. He is globally regarded as a specialist in the restoration of the natural vegetation on degraded land.
Miyawaki's method of afforestation involves planting a number of different species of native trees (very very) close to each other through a logical sequence.
The method not only saves space but plants being in close proximity help them in supporting each other.
Close planting of many random trees in a small area creates a dense forest that enriches the green cover. The method also reinforces the richness of the land and prevents sunlight from reaching the ground.
This is done by planting species of Potential Natural Vegetation (PNV), which is selected on the basis of vegetation surveys in nearby ecologically undisturbed areas.
The Miyawaki method ensures that forests grow 10 times faster, are 30 times denser, and 100 times more biodiverse. While the conventional method can take more than 100 years for the forest cover, the Miyawaki method can accentuate the growth in 20–30 years.
The model was first implemented in the early 1970s by a Japanese company Nippon Steel Corporation. The company wanted to plant forests on embankments around its steel factory.
Miyawaki identified the potential areas, studying the surrounding forests. He chose various species of trees and then created a nursery where plants were mixed and then planted on the site. The steel corporation was so impressed with the results that in the next few years, it planted forests with this method at various sites of its steel mills.
The success story reached various parts of Japan which led to its wide-scale adoption at not only various factories but also to other wastelands and degraded land sites.
For his contribution, Dr. Akira Miyawaki has received many accolades and prizes, including the Blue Planet Prize in 2009 — considered to be a prestigious award that recognizes noticeable efforts in applications of science that contribute to solving global environmental problems.
Global Reach and Relevance
This plantation model has been tested in Japan and the model is used today across the globe for creating dense environment protection forests.
Miyawaki’s method of planting trees has been replicated in over 3,000 areas around the world, including over 1,400 sites in Japan.
Over the years, this method has spread far and wide, reaching countries like Thailand, Indonesia, France, Malaysia, Borneo, Brazil, India, and many other counties around the globe.
In 2000, the Miyawaki method was tested for the first time in a Mediterranean ecosystem in Italy, in an area where traditional reforestation methods had failed. Results obtained after a few years of planting trees were outstanding: the plant biodiversity increased rapidly in the region. A research paper published in 2010, has explained in detail the effectiveness of this technique in the Mediterranean region.
In India, a Bengaluru-based group SayTrees has switched to this method over the last few years to plant thousands of trees in and around the region. Another NGO Green Yatra, which has ambitious plans to plant 100 million trees by 2025, has already organized various tree plantation drives in Mumbai using this technique. Recently in February 2020, another Indian state Telangana decided to leverage the Miyawaki technique to plant trees in the Hyderabad region.
I spoke to the founder of SayTrees, Kapil Sharma, about him and his organization employing the Miyawaki technique to create forests.
I took a decision to try it in 2016 and by 2017 I saw the results. Results were so amazing that since 2017 we have created more than 20 Miywaki Forests. The latest forests which we have created are of 38,000 saplings in one location. It is something very good for cities, which are converting into concrete jungles.
Soil preparation is the most important in the Miyawaki technique. The next is the placement of saplings. It is not rocket science.
Trees help in supplying the oxygen in the atmosphere, absorbing pollutants from the air we breathe, preventing soil erosion, and providing fruits & vegetables, as well as a natural home to biodiversity.
In addition, forests provide jobs and livelihoods to thousands of people. Furniture, spices, rubber, paper, medicine, and tourism, among hundreds of other sectors, leverage resources from the wood of the forests for commercial purposes.
Given the current pandemic situation which the world is reeling under, we need to ensure that we take better care of the environment in the future. While planting trees might not cure people of any virus, it can surely help in the healing of the planet. Hopefully, more regions, cities, and countries come forward to use this method for a greener and healthier world.
Originally published at https://changestarted.com on April 15, 2020.