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  • Writer's pictureRaju

Why urban India needs Miyawaki forests

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

El Domo naturally integrates the Miyawaki Method. Here’s what Miyawaki is and how it can help you too


Introduction

Afforestation is a vital element for combating climate change. It’s also a great way to increase biodiversity and create open green spaces in urban environments. Miyawaki Afforestation is a fast catching up and accepted method of landscaping that mimics the look and feel of a natural forest environment in human-designed environments like parks, workspaces, and private homes. It was developed in Japan in 1946 by Dr. Masanobu Miyawaki, a plant physiologist and soil scientist. Miyawaki forestation (also called the Miyawaki method) is a sustainable approach to growing trees and plants. Rather than using traditional pruning methods which remove leaves from branches, the Miyawaki method encourages the growth of mono-layered canopies. Miyawaki forests are also called "forests in pots". In contrast to traditional reforestation efforts, which rely on single-species monocultures and slow-growing trees, the Miyawaki method results in forests that grow ten times faster than normal, require far less maintenance, and are much more resilient to environmental stressors like fires and droughts.


Miyawaki Forests consist of an assortment of native trees, shrubs and perennials planted close together. The goal is to create a self-sustaining forest that can be maintained with minimal intervention. The method requires no watering, weeding or use of fertilizers after the first two years, when the forest reaches a self-sustaining stage. Close promximity planting encourages competition for light and promotes growth that is more rapid than plantation forestry. It also results in forests with greater biodiversity.





The environmental benefits include air purification through carbon dioxide fixation and oxygen production, noise reduction from traffic, temperature regulation, reduction in soil erosion, water retention and increased biodiversity.

The technique has been used at various locations across the world, including Japan, India, Australia and United States. The first such forest in India was planted at the HESCO headquarters in Hyderabad in 2014. This forest has more than 500 native species planted in an area of less than one acre


We at EL Domo have worked to provide an urban forest that can help lower the effects of global warming. Miyawaki afforestation also provides environmental benefits like improved air quality, enhanced storm-water management, noise reduction, and cleaner streets. Read more about our project in the last section of this blog, below). In a study done on Miyawaki afforestation, researchers found that over 90% of participants experienced an increase in vigour after spending time in nature. This is due to the fact that being in nature allows for greater relaxation and reduces stress. Individuals who regularly spend time in forests are happier and healthier, with lower rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Forests can trigger an endorphin response from the brain, with emotionally positive effects.


How Miyawaki forests function:

The concept behind Miyawaki afforestation is to plant native species close together, so that they grow vertically rather than horizontally, forming a dense multi-layered canopy. This canopy then blocks sunlight from reaching the lower layers, causing them to die off and decompose, leaving space for new species to grow. In this way, the forest "seeds itself" through natural processes. The resulting forest provides a sanctuary for wildlife and sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It grows about 1 meter every year, thereby reaching its full height in just 10 years. In the first 3-5 years after planting the trees grow very quickly. A mini-forest can be created within 1 year and takes only 10% of the usual area required to plant a conventional tree plantation. A typical small forest created using the Miyawaki approach can store as much carbon dioxide in three years as a naturally grown forest of the same size would in 50 years. Compared to conventional plantation forests… -In India, the average plantation forest density is about 1,000 to 2,000 trees per hectare (400 to 800 trees per acre). A Miyawaki forest has about 10 times more trees (10,000 trees per hectare), so it's definitely denser than an average plantation.

-A typical mixed species plantation will have around 50 different species of plants and trees growing together. On the other hand, a Miyawaki forest has around 100 different species of plants and trees growing together. So it's definitely more diverse than a typical mixed species plantation.


Needs of a Miyawaki Forest:


Site Selection


The first step is to select the site for afforestation. It is necessary to take into consideration the topography of the area, soil types, wind directions and rainfall patterns. There are some small scale interventions that can be implemented to help the forest to reach its full potential. One of these is removing any non-native plants which can be harmful to native plants due to competition, which can reduce the amount of nutrients available for native plants, as well as parasitism and disease transmission from non-native plants to native plants. Non-native species may also hinder regeneration of native plant species. A detailed plan is prepared for land use in accordance with the ecological characteristics of the area.


Rainwater Collection


For rainwater harvesting, it is recommended that you collect rainwater from the roof of your house/ office buidling. A single catchment area of 100 square metres will yield approximately 5 cubic metres of water per year (based on annual rainfall of 1000mm). The best type of roof for collecting rainwater is a flat roof, but it can also be collected from a pitched roof. In the Miyawaki method, we recommend using the harvested water for at least 1 year; however, as long as the soil is moist, you can use rainwater instead of harvested water. The soil becomes moist from watering during the first month after planting and from rainfall in subsequent years.


Stages of Afforestation

The first stage of the Miyawaki afforestation method, consists of removing the surface layer of soil by scraping off the top 2 to 5 cm. Meanwhile


The second stage involves creating a mixture of soil and organic materials. The soil is mixed with a variety of organic materials (including fallen leaves, manure and soil from a nearby forest) to make it more nutrient-rich.


In the third stage, tree saplings are planted in some part of the mixed soil. In this stage, tree nursery stock is used as seedlings. The ratio of species planted is 30% fast-growing species, 30% shade-giving species, 30% fruit-bearing species and 10% other species.


A large variety of small seedlings are planted very close together, in a dense pattern (for example, 50-70 seedlings per square meter).


Drip irrigation: a pipe with holes will be laid around the plot to deliver water to each tree. The pipe must be installed before planting trees.


Mulching: The soil is covered with mulch to maintain moisture and prevent weeds from growing. The mulch decomposes over time and enriches the soil.


Thinning: Saplings that are not growing well or are growing too slowly are removed to make space for those that grow quickly. The initial growth can also aided by shading from netting or shade cloth. Little by little, you will see the forest gradually appear.


Maintenance


An important aspect of maintenance is that the forest is managed to be a self-sustaining ecosystem. This means that the forest does not receive any outside inputs, and does not require any human intervention.


The maintenance stage is the longest of the three stages. The initial maintenance period lasts for three years, and the forest during this time is known as a "maintenance forest". During this time, no human intervention is done except for removal of weeds by hand.


Regenerative stage


After three years, the maintenance forest becomes a "self-regenerating forest". In this stage, the forest can be maintained by simply cutting trees and letting new ones grow in their place, which makes it much more environmentally friendly than conventional forestry.



Why do urban areas need Miyawaki forests?

Miyawaki afforestation has been successfully used in urban areas. These microforests can be established on degraded land or on existing open spaces such as parks or even traffic islands. Miyawaki afforestation has been used internationally to create community gardens and urban forests on land that is otherwise unused or under-used, such as along railway sidings and highways. It's not just about providing aesthetic beauty & beautifying cities. These forests are designed to be dense and biodiverse, reducing cooling costs. The forest of Miyawaki is very dense. This is a key advantage to afforestation in urban areas, as it creates “green lungs” that help reduce air pollution and moderate climate. Another important benefit of urban forests is their role in flood prevention. In years when there is a lot of rainfall, rainwater runs off quickly from built-up areas and into rivers, where it can cause flooding. Forests slow down this runoff by allowing the water to seep into the ground.

How EL Domo is naturally suited for Miyawaki method


EL Domo is a Dome (home) set in EcoLogy. EL Domo offers many benefits for those who invest in it and build next to these forests. For example, living space ambience will be rejuvenating because the plants will provide fresh air, oxygen, humidity control and temperature moderation. The dome's shape also increases airflow around the structure which helps prevent growth stagnation, insect infestations and pests. An EL Domo can be planted with a wide variety of vegetation, trees, grasses, and flowering plants that are designed to thrive in the climate where it's located. EL Domo uses a revolutionary new way to grow trees in the city. It uses less water, less space, less delivery and less maintenance than traditional methods.

Our company promotes the Japanese concept of “forest bathing” — an ancient practice in which one goes into nature to meditate, reflect, and find peace with oneself — and deeply believes that everyone should be able to experience this practice no matter where they live or how busy they are. We believe that each and every one of us is a part of the forest. We believe that when you breathe in the air around a tree, you can feel happier.


We are in great awe at the Rainforest in Madikeri, set in the Western Ghats in the south Indian State of Karnataka. A forest that has existed naturally for several decades with a few trees that are over 200 years old, has a great ecosystem and life of its own.



We help people who want to protect their forests and beautify their surroundings. We care about the planet and how we can make it a better place for everyone! EL Domo helps companies with green initiatives and progress to Net Zero with Miyawaki afforestation. By using concepts implemented at EL Domo, you can help reduce air pollution and create natural landscapes in your city.


An EL Domo is the greenest and most beautiful villa in the world: visit our dome homes, experience the “dome life” and also get landscaping ideas for inexpensive, green homes. We have a reason to build homes in a forest or create forests around our homes. Read here about the Science behind Forest therapy


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