The scary cries about the escalating effects of greenhouse emissions and the question of our planet’s survival against the impending climate apocalypse (which is headed our way sooner than one thought) are among the top global issues that hit the headlines quite some time ago. Even as researchers across the globe are pulling their hair out and finding various means to save the earth from breaking point, one thing they unanimously concede: planting has mind-blowing potential to tackle climatic crisis. Studies show a trillion trees could be planted to capture huge amount of carbon-dioxide and therefore significant rises in tree planting need to happen quickly if other targets to cut carbon are not met. With go green measures made compulsory many government and non-governmental organizations, corporates and even individuals are directly being engaged in many afforestation programmes.

However, the need of the hour is rapid green expanse. Considering all the afforestation methods experts opine Miyawaki way, a Japanese technique of painting green patch at fast pace, developed by renowned botanist Akira Miyawaki, fits the bill.

Miyawaki method is a quick and reliable way to create forests – big or small with relatively less effort.The idealness in Akira’s woods is trees grow at a rapid pace resulting in a rapid creation of green cover. These forests are self-sustaining and require no maintenance after 2-3 years. However, the trees in a Miyawaki forest must be indigenous as only native species can survive drought and diseases.

Another distinctive feature is, since saplings are planted very close to each other, more plants can be grown in a small area negating the space constraint issue. Not only trees here vie with each other for growth but also provide nutrient support to each other, which is really noteworthy.

Now coming to the point, if you are a green crusader or a person highly passionate of creating greeneries, then why don’t you try Akira’s Method? If interested take a cue from Lovely offset Printers, manufacturers of Lovely Cards, Sivakasi where we have successfully created forests the Miyawaki way. It's always good to know from the realtime experience.

MAKING OF MIYAWAKI – STEPWISE COMMENTARY

STEP ONE - Soil Preparation

Dig up to at least 3 feet depth the entire area you want to plant trees. Remove the top soil (up to 1 feet depth) and keep it separately. Dump the rest of the soil somewhere near the place for future use. In case you find rocks within 3 feet just dig until you hit the rocks.

Once the pit is ready allow it to cool down for a few days. Then start filling it with agricultural waste that means leaves, chopped branches, tree trunks or anything that can decompose easily. For quick decomposition, spray decomposing aides like EM, Azospirillum and/or Panjakavyam.

It is not advisable to fill the pits with rotten fruits and veggies because they may contain worms and other pests which can harm young plants. Necessary precautions must be taken while filling the pit with fruits and vegetable wastes. Please google for further information on the preventive measures to be undertaken in the above case.

At Lovely, we filled the bottom of the pit with waste wooden pallets and put a thin layer of top soil over it and left it undisturbed for a few days to settle. Despite the fact that watering enables decomposition it is not mandatory to water the pit at this stage. This process of creating layers is repeated with different types of agricultural waste.

On the top most layer we mixed cow dung, vermin compost along with the remaining top soil. The filled area can be at least 6-9 inches above the normal level so as to offset for the shrinkage that will happen inside the pit after decomposition.

We watered it randomly for speedy decomposition. The putrefaction process took nearly 3 to 4 months and the level of the site actually went down due to the decaying of the organic matter. In case the site’s level goes below the normal ground level just fill it with the previously dumped top soil. Be sure that you do not mix any chemical fertilizers or pesticides during the entire process.

The logic behind the soil preparation phase is as below:

1. It creates a solid fertilizer base for the trees.
2. The earth becomes soft because of the mixture of soil and waste thus helping the roots penetrate easily which results in faster growth of the plants.
3. The agricultural waste, especially coconut pith, husk etc. absorb and retain water. This will double up as a water source for the fast growing saplings.
4. Patience always pays. Plant trees after the waste gets completely decomposed otherwise heat generated during the disintegration process may kill the roots.
5. Planting can be started only after ensuring that there is no heat inside the pit. (How to check? An easier way is to penetrate the pit with an iron rod, take it outside then touch and feel the heat )

STEP TWO - SELECTION OF TREES

Indigenous trees are the best choice for Miyawaki forests but it doesn’t mean that other types could not be planted. In our land we gave more preference to local species like neem, peepal ….. But did plant trees like fig, guava, mango, teak, red sanders… just to see how they grow and adapt the environment. The results are mixed. However, we suggest not to plant more than 20-30% of the trees that are not indigenous.

Besides it is wise to consider availability of water as it is one of the main criteria for plant selection. Bear it in mind that these forests should self-sustain with very little or no water after 2-3 years depending upon the rain in your area. A lot of trees look fantastic as long as you water them. They will die quickly if you stop watering them. Our oldest saplings are only 18 months old and have not seen drought yet. But we did notice that saplings not native to our area struggle when there is a water shortage. So note this valid point while choosing the trees.

Again just make sure that the saplings are healthy and at least 1-2 feet tall when you buy them. Mortality rate of small saplings is very high. It is well and good if you can create a nursery on your own.

STEP THREEE- PLANTING FORMAT

Random, haphazard, zigzag manner give a forest look

If you are planting along your boundary, plant your saplings minimum 6-10 feet away from the borderline so that you get enough space to move around and inspect the growth of your trees and carry out maintenance work. This way your trees would not peep into neighbor’s premises also.

In case you are creating a large forest in a rectangular plot then it is better to have some space in between to do maintenance. There is no point in creating a very dense forest that you cannot even enter. Hence make sure to leave enough space before planting trees keeping in mind their future growth.

Once the site is ready, start planting randomly with each sapling at a distance of 1.5 feet apart. Don’t stick on to any pattern. Forests are always random. So don’t bother too much about planting in some specific order. But it is not a good idea to plant the same species next to each other.

STEP FOUR – Watering Methods

It is mandatory that you have a good water source and a clear plan for watering. We are using drip irrigation. Initially we watered once in 2 days. Now we water them once a week due to water shortage. Water is a scarce resource in Sivakasi.

STEP FIVE - MAINTENANCE

No maintenance is the best maintenance yet you have to weed for at least a year. It is better to trim the branches at the bottom so that slow growers get a fair chance to grow. Strictly say no to pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Make sure that cattle do not feast on the saplings. We did not have this problem as our properties are properly fenced and monitored.

“The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life activity; it affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axe-man who destroys it.”-Gautama Buddha