The Miyawaki Method: An Introduction

More than half of the human population is living in cities, today; the number is expected to increase up to around 70%, by 2050. This physical disconnection from natural elements can not only affect our physical, mental, and emotional health, but it can play a role in deteriorating our connection to Nature. This is one of the reasons why promoting green spaces within urban areas is so important.

The Miyawaki Method is not a recent framework, but it has been taking on supporters and more people from around the world are giving it a try.

Akira Miyawaki was a Japanese botanist and expert in plant ecology, specializing in seeds and the study of natural forests.

Originally developed by the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, the Miyawaki technique is, in essence, a way to build native dense forests. In fact, Miyawaki forests are 30 times denser than those traditionally planted and can grow 10 times as fast, becoming self-sufficient in just 2 or 3 years. This is one of the great appeals of the Miyawaki Method – a forest can take up to 300 years to achieve the same stage of development a Miyawaki forest reaches in 30 years. This, of course, influences the amount of carbon trapped by the forest in those first years after the planting.

One of the reasons behind the growth rate witnessed in Miyawaki forests is the density of planting. As a result of the proximity between the small plants, light can only reach their leaves from the top. The basic concept of phototropism says that organisms (generally plants) grow in response to a light stimulus and towards the light source. So, seedlings in a Miyawaki forest will grow up towards the only light they can find, instead of sideways.

Another important aspect contributing to the success of this method is community involvement. Traditionally, these forests are planted and looked after by locals increasing the feeling of collective ownership and responsibility.

The Portuguese NGO, Vida, puts forward 12 benefits of the Miyawaki method, divided into 4 groups:

Support: (1) attracting biodiversity in an urban environment, and (2) sequestering atmospheric CO2.
Regulation: (3) filtering the air, (4) reducing noise pollution, and (5) atmospheric temperature, and (6) controlling water run-off.
Provisioning: (7) generating crops, (8) improving soil health, and (9) human health.
Cultural: (10) increasing real state value, (11) well-being, and providing (12) educational opportunities.

An urban forest comes with an array of benefits and services.

In the upcoming weeks, we will go through each of the steps to build a Miyawaki forest.

By the end of this series, you will have enough information to plan, implement, and care for your own mini forest.

Stay tuned!



“Mini Forests for Giant Lessons” Guide – credits to
Cover photo – credits to Pierre François DOCQUIR



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