Mangroves, urban forest cover, pockets of green spaces and of course beaches. Mumbai is a city that can boast it all.
However, this green cover is under constant threat. Nowadays, the sight of people chopping down trees to construct a concrete monstrosity is quite common, the threat to our mangroves has stepped over the danger limit, and reckless human behaviour is an axe dangling over the acres of green canopy.
So, this should not come as a surprise that against the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change recommended 33 per cent, the green patch in the city is at an abysmal 13 per cent currently.
Despite the pall of such gloomy statistics, some green crusaders are always at work and coming up with innovative ways to protect what matters. Green Yatra, a city-based NGO is on a mission to plant 10 crore trees by 2025 across India, with their target for 2019 being 10 lakh trees.
For space-strapped Mumbai, the NGO is planning to use the Miyawaki technique to make it greener.
The Central Rail-side Warehouse Company (CRWC) premises at Jogeshwari East will soon see, as Green Yatra claims, Mumbai’s first Miyawaki urban dense forest.
What is the Miyawaki method?
Japanese botanist and plant ecology expert, D. Akira Miyawaki invented this unique method of plantation.
In Miyawaki method multi-layered saplings are planted close to each other. This blocks sunlight from reaching the ground and prevents weeds from growing, thus keeping the soil moist. The close cropping further ensures that the plants receive sunlight only from the top thus enabling them only to grow upwards than sideways.
“This is one of the reasons why the saplings grow tall in a short span,” says Green Yatra founder, Pradeep Tripathi.
Growing the saplings close also ensures space for more trees to be planted.
“CRWC has allocated us one-acre space at Ram Mandir. We could grow a maximum of 800 trees in this space if we follow the conventional methods. But the Miyawaki technique will enable us to plant 12,000 trees in the same space,” he adds.
Of this target of 12,000 trees, the organisation planted 3,000 trees of 30 different native species since January 26. The native species include kanchan, karanj, neem, jamun and palash among others.
Method they followed
They dug a three-feet-deep trench, then tested the soil after that and used mulching to improve its fertility. Finally, they added a mixture of rice straw, vermicompost, biomass compost, coco peat, husk, hay, and microorganisms to improve the soil quality included.
“We created a plantation bed from these materials and planted two to five saplings per square metre. These saplings can grow up to a 20-feet tree in just two years,” says Pradeep.
The Miyawaki method also follows plantation in layers.
The first layer has shrubs which grow up to ten feet. The second layer includes trees that grow up to 25 feet. The third layer of trees grows up to 25-40 feet, and the final layer forms canopies that grow beyond 40 feet.
Benefits of the Miyawaki Method
The effectiveness of the Miyawaki method reflects in how this ‘potential natural vegetation’ concept, regardless of soil and climatic conditions, has helped create more than 3,000 forests over the world.
The method allows you to create a forest space within a short period of 20 to 30 years. In comparison, a conventional forest can take anywhere up to 200 to 300 years to develop.
Also, the forests grown using Miyawaki technique grow 10 times faster and 30 times denser. They boast of having 30 times better carbon dioxide absorption capacity, 30 times better noise, and dust reduction ability, and 30 times greener surface area, as compared to a monoculture plantation.
“We do not use chemicals and chemical fertilisers. This ensures that we grow a cent per cent native, organic and 100-year-old forest in just 10 years,” Pradeep adds.
Another benefit of the method is that a Miyawaki forest, after two years of plantation, becomes self-sufficient and does not rely on any external maintenance. These dense forests not only help retain groundwater, recharge groundwater tables and support local biodiversity but also increase green cover and curb air pollution.
“We aim is to create more such urban dense forests across Mumbai and Maharashtra,” shares Pradeep.
He mentions that without the help of their project-partner, the Bangalore-based NGO “Say Trees”, the mission would not be possible.
“Say Trees” has perpetuated afforestation in cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Satara, and Meerut in the past by pairing up with partner organisations and created 15 urban forests by planting 43,000 saplings.
The CSR wing of Karix Mobile Private Limited funded the project, and CRWC has extended their land and support.
In places like Mumbai, where the ratio of trees to humans continues to decrease every year, Miyawaki forests could be the answer.
“In this method, we can grow ultra-fast growing dense forests in small patches in the different places of the city like residential housing societies, gardens, Industrial areas, corporate and IT parks, MIDC areas and such other places. It requires a minimum of 1000 square feet patch of land to grow a small Miyawaki forest. We will be happy to assist and support government bodies, MIDC, corporates, companies, industries, NGOs and individuals to create such kinds of Miyawaki forests for a green, healthy and pollution free Mumbai and Maharashtra,” signs off Pradeep.
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(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)