If you happened to visit this particular site in Kopar Khairane of Navi Mumbai anytime before 2021, you wouldn’t have been able to breathe without taking in the stench of the dumping ground.

The same land is now sprawling with thousands of lush green trees growing 15-20 feet tall, and attracting biodiversity.

The quick transition of the wasteland to a 3-acre mini-forest is all thanks to the Miyawaki forest technique adopted by Abhijit Bangar, civic chief at the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.

“We wanted to create an urban forest to increase the greenery in the city. But the majority of the cities face the same issue – lack of space,” says the IAS officer.

He executed the project by roping in Green Yatra. “The soil had hardened with years of waste piled up and had chemicals mixed with it,” says Pradeep Tripathi of the Mumbai-based non-profit.

They decided to treat the soil at the dump yard to make it suitable for creating a Miyawaki forest. The high-density tree plantation method enables the fast growth of trees in a short period.

The technique involves digging a one-metre ground and conducting biological, physical and chemical soil testing to understand its nutritional value.

Accordingly, biomass is prepared using coco peat, compost, soil, perforate and water retainer to provide the necessary nutrition to the soil. The mixture is then spread on the soil and layered for the plantation.

This plantation requires only two years of maintenance. The NGO chose species including lemon, neem, jamun, mangoes, teak, black catechu, and others for plantation.

As many as 60,000 saplings were planted. Abhijit says some species have started breeding in the forest area and the green paradise serves as an oxygen hub for the residents.

“The success of the forest shows that such green zones can be created in urban spaces too. Such small biodiversity pockets are vital for the environment and help us contribute our bit to the environment,” he says.