Miyawaki-forest, a mini-ecosystem

Forests are one of the most complex life forms on Earth. For this reason, only places with specific climates and characteristics are suitable to support a forest. Through a process of succession in nearly 1000 years weeds and grasses will be replaced by shrubs, slowly by the first pioneer trees, and later the area will have dominated by trees. Eventually, a stable form of forest, as we know it, evolves.

Akira Miyawaki

Born in 1928, he has been emphasizing the importance of natural forests since the 1970s. His speciality is plant ecology and his research has shown that forests planted according to forestry criteria are not always the best for the area. They are not very resilient and do not perform as well as natural forests in the face of climate change.

During his research in Germany, he developed a concept and refined it to create a revolutionary reforestation method, the Miyawaki reforestation method.

No secrets

Miyawaki has already successfully applied the developed technique in more than 1300 degraded and depleted areas. There is no secret ingredient or elixir to his success, Miyawaki simply paid attention to the environment. He pays attention to the natural features of the chosen area, selects a mix of local, native species accordingly, and then plants a large number of seedlings and woody species in relatively small areas to speed up growth. Under natural conditions, i.e. without human intervention, it takes nearly 1000 years for a forest to develop and play its ecological role in nature. The method has reduced this time to 10-15 years, which is enough time for planted seedlings to develop into a forest that plays its ecological role.

A mini-ecosystem

The fight against global climate change is motivating many to act. Many of us see regenerating and planting forests as part of the solution. Trees store a lot of carbon in their trunks, and as soon as these trees are cleared and burned, the carbon they have stored is released into the atmosphere, where it plays its greenhouse role. There is no question that deforestation is many times faster than the establishment of forests.

A further obstacle is that the world is rarely rich in places suitable for planting forests. This is why the Japanese-inspired method, as defined above, has become so popular today. In a small area and with minimal human intervention, a complex ecosystem is created that improves biodiversity and contributes to carbon dioxide sequestration from the atmosphere. The need for small space also allows cities to plant forests and thus join the fight. An urban forest has many positive benefits for human mental health as well as for the air quality and temperature of the environment.

Not all forests are equally effective at sequestering carbon dioxide and thereby slowing climate change. A mature forest with native tree species is twice as efficient. Miyawaki’s method is an effective and quick way to tackle this global problem.

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