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Miyawaki forests

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    23rd Jun, 2023

Context

Prime Minister during his latest ‘Mann ki baat’ episode spoke about Miyawaki plantation, the Japanese method of creating dense urban forests in a small area.

  • The PM also cited the example of a Kerala-based teacher, Raafi Ramnath, who used the Miyawaki technique to transform a barren land into a mini forest called ‘Vidyavanam’ by planting 115 varieties of trees.

Background

  • The methodology was developed in the 1970s, with the basic objective to densify green cover within a small parcel of land.
  • The method is named after Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki.

What is the Miyawaki plantation method?

  • This method involves planting two to four different types of indigenous trees within every square metre.
  • In this method, the trees become self-sustaining and they grow to their full length within three years.
  • Some of the common indigenous plants that are used for these forests include Anjan, Amala, Bel, Arjun and Gunj.

Significance:

  • The plants used in the Miyawaki method are mostly self-sustaining and do not require regular maintenance like manuring and watering.
  • It has revolutionised the concept of urban afforestation by turning backyards into mini-forests.
  • This method includes planting trees (only native species) as close as possible in the same area which not only saves space, but the planted saplings also support each other in growth and block sunlight reaching the ground, thereby preventing the growth of weed.

How is Miyawaki useful?

  • The dense green cover of indigenous trees plays a key role in absorbing the dust particles of the area where the garden has been set up.
  • The plants also help in regulating surface temperature.

Urban Forest and Importance:

The forests in urban areas are important for sustainable environment conservation as also helps in following:

  • Mitigate the heat island effect by reducing temperatures through shading and evapotranspiration.
  • Reduce burdens on traditional water infrastructure and reduce run-off by absorbing and filtering storm water
  • Calm traffic and reduce driver speeds when properly incorporated along roads and rights-of-way.
  • Improve air quality by removing harmful pollutants, like particulate matter, ozone, and smog, in certain contexts; however, trees may also trap air pollution in urban canyons, create allergenic pollen or even emit pollutant precursors
  • Reduce noise
  • Improve scenic quality and aesthetic appeal
  • Support local livelihoods and provide fuel wood, medicine, and other goods
  • Enhance community cohesion by fostering social interaction, building environmental consciousness, and establishing a shared sense of place.
  • Increase food security for marginalized populations in both developed and developing contexts
  • Enhance agricultural productivity in peri-urban agroforestry by improving site conditions and diversifying production for smallholder farmers.
  • Sequester carbon; however, pruning, fertilization, and irrigation of street trees may also result in CO2 emissions.
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