Miyawaki plantation method for urban forestry in Nepal

- Bindu Poudel, Pokhara

     Bindu Poudel    
     Wednesday August 11, 2021

To everyone who thinks planting trees is important, it is necessary to understand that planting techniques are of great significance too.

Amidst growing concern over climate change, cities are in dire need of urban forests to mitigate urban heat island intensity. With climate change reaching the doorstep of Nepal, urban forests intend to be both mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change.

As the increasing effect of climate change has been seen in Nepal with a rise in average annual temperature by 0.6oC, the Himalayas are blazing even more with the rise in average annual temperature by 0.8oC. Likewise, we have clearly noticed the loss of forest biodiversity in recent years due to natural catastrophes such as forest fire, flood, and landslides, ultimately fueled by climate change.

In the middle of all these problems, urban greening is emerging as a tried-and-true method of mitigating the effects of climate change.  Green spaces not only improve the quality of urban environment, but also improve local resilience and encourage sustainable lifestyle by enhancing inhabitants’ health and well-being.

With sprawling urbanization and visible benefits of urban forestry, tree plantation in urban areas is becoming less of an environment friendly activity only and more of a mandatory action to sustain life on the earth. However, one should keep in mind that planting method matters as much as planting right kind of trees.

Miyawaki plantation method was designed by a Japanese botanist- Akira Miyawaki in the 1980s with the aim of building dense, native multilayered forests especially in the wastelands.

Miyawaki plantation method was designed by a Japanese botanist- Akira Miyawaki in the 1980s with the aim of building dense, native multilayered forests especially in the wastelands. After selecting the specific local seeds of native species, trees can be planted everywhere in any type of soil such as in urban areas, river banks, school building premises, Industrial areas and factory yards. In short, we can do plantation in all kinds of wastelands using this technique.

In recent years this method is gaining popularity and has been implemented by many metropolitans of India such as Karnataka, Maharastra, Telengana & Tamil nadu, Utterkhand, and some more countries have successfully created the Miyawaki urban forests. Over 2000 forests with indigenous species were created worldwide irrespective of soil type and climatic conditions using the Miyawaki method. Miyawaki urban forests are fascinating complex ecosystems, comprised of tall trees, medium to short trees, and bottom weeds in balance with today’s soil and climatic conditions in relatively small amount of time.

The first steps of Miyawaki plantation method starts with enhancing soil quality by digging up the soil and adding perforators such as wheat husk or corn husk or water retaining materials into the pit which helps the soil to retain moisture. Organic manure can also be used as an alternative.

Saplings, seedlings, or seeds are then dispersed or planted close together and tied with sticks to support the saplings, causing plants to compete for space and sunlight, which results in increase of green cover up to 30 times denser and 10 times taller than regular plantation. As a result, the impact on climate change mitigation, environmental preservation, and air purification might be 30 times greater.

The popular water hose and shower method is preferred for watering the planted site once a day over building irrigation equipment after plantation. After 2 to 3 years of monitoring and maintenance, the site becomes self-sustaining and develops habitat for birds and insects. There is no need for cutting or pruning because dead leaves, twigs, and wood are allowed to decompose naturally into mulch, eliminating the need for fertilizer and ensuring the forest’s long-term health and sustainability. As a result, it protects soil from being washed away during a rapid downpour.

In Nepal, urban forestry is still in its infancy; in cities like Kathmandu and Hetauda, research regarding green space mapping is being conducted to identify suitable areas for urban plantation, implying that plantation will take place soon in those places. This plantation method will be excellent and 30 times faster than haphazard plantation in the urban areas, river side barren areas as well as wastelands.

This method also ensures people’s participation as the primary participants in forest creation are local people themselves. As this method has a rigorous methodology and requires high cost, the collaboration of private sectors, government, local people as well as other beneficiaries is required for implementing the Miyawaki urban plantation.

We must not forget that things of great quality often come with high price. There is a need to empower people and boost the confidence for investment in plantations. We will be able to see a huge difference in urban areas if mandatory command related to urban plantation is given to every province or district or relevant local authority to create sufficient amount of forests in a couple of years. This systematic plantation is far superior to haphazard plantation of trees which is done just for the sake of land occupancy.

(Bindu Poudel is a final year student pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the Institute of Forestry. She has a keen interest in urban forestry)