Repopulating the planet with forests is essential to contain climate change.
One of the apparently most effective methods for reforestation, because it allows significant results to be achieved in a very short period of time, is the one invented by the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki who uses resistant and spontaneous native plants in portions of disused land and in the courtyards of large cities. The objectives of the Miyawaki method - used all over the world - are many and all noteworthy: from reducing pollution levels to regulating the temperature, from promoting biodiversity to ecological regeneration of areas otherwise in state of neglect and often of real squalor.
A book on the Miyawaki method has just been published, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, written by Hannah Lewis, author and editor specializing in ecology and science: " Mini Forest Revolution ".
The author explains.
What is the Miyawaki method?
Hannah Lewis: «The basic idea of this method is to grow a rich natural forest in just a couple of decades , without having to wait hundreds of years for robust and mature plants.
This is made possible by a scrupulous phase of observation of what happens in nature in the chosen site, to understand which native spontaneous plants are most suitable for reproducing quickly and growing autonomously , therefore without further human intervention. , creating a healthy and strong natural habitat.
A type of study that is therefore interested in soil, topography and climate. And it should be noted that not only large trees will necessarily be planted, but also bushes and shrubs capable of enduring and thriving ».
Are there any special rules to follow in the boot phase?
«The Miyawaki method requires intensive soil preparation. We ask you to sow abundantly and very thickly , actively maintaining the site for the first 3 years, when the forest stabilizes and finds its basic shape.
Already after two years the young trees will have formed a thick enough crown to shade the lower herbaceous plants, managing to create a microclimate that protects the undergrowth from extreme atmospheric agents. At this point the micro forest is self-sufficient and no longer needs any form of maintenance ».
How is this method revolutionary?
«In fact, this approach allows us to greatly accelerate the natural growth process of a forest . For this reason, after only a few years we are witnessing what would happen to a portion of land that has remained untouched by man for centuries. Revolutionary and fascinating ».
When did you come across Akira Miyawaki's work?
“When my family moved to France in 2016, I started working remotely for the US-based non-profit organization Biodiversity for a Livable Climate. My task was to select texts that highlighted the climatic benefits of restoring the local ecosystem. By researching and documenting myself, I discovered the Miyawaki method in 2019 and I was struck by it».
What impressed you about this method?
«Undoubtedly the question of how many positive effects cultivating a forest of native plants has. And the beauty is that a small surface , to say 200 square meters, may be enough to obtain tangible effects in terms of climate change. I decided to propose a reforestation project according to the Miyawaki method to the council of the French town where I lived and to read up on the various municipalities that were planting mini-forests in the abandoned areas ».
We have mentioned some of the benefits triggered by reforestation according to this method. In your opinion, which are the most important?
“These healthy natural ecosystems bring down temperatures on a local, regional and global scale, depending on how many and how large they are. In general rewilding is an approach to restoring ecosystem processes that helps regulate any natural cycle , from the food web to the availability of water. The goal is to make these green areas autonomous ».
And is it true that a small plot of land can suffice?
"Absolutely yes! It ranges from a courtyard transformed into a garden of native plants to vast wilderness areas where possible ».
How does it differ from other reforestation techniques?
«The Miyawaki Method can be seen as a urban regeneration technique . In cities, this approach can positively distort the metropolitan landscape. And it can fulfill at the same time ornamental and beautifying needs of a neighborhood as well as ecosystem regeneration needs.
Instead of planting trees individually, in rows or in small groups, trees are being planted in relation to each other, in a dense, studied, interconnected way . What this method aims at is to stimulate interactions between plants and the soil, including its innumerable and fundamental microorganisms. Visually, too, the impact is very different from the classic green area we are used to: we are faced with a dense scrub of multilayered vegetation, very rich in variety and life ».
How can a council be persuaded to invest in this project?
“Recognizing that it is true that the Miyawaki method requires excellent specific knowledge and significant initial expense and commitment. But the advantage is that the planted species are destined to become self-sufficient within a few years and no longer require maintenance. All with the result of a high biodiversity and a healthy and beautiful ecosystem. Destined to live undisturbed ».