The Miyawaki Method: A Better Way to Build Forests?

This is an interesting article about Afforestt, an Indian company that is systematizing Akira Miyawaki’s approach to reforestation, which plants very dense, diverse forests on small patches.

It works like this: the soil of a future forest site is analyzed and then improved, using locally available sustainable amendments—for example, rice husks from a nearby mill. About 50 to 100 local plant species from the above four categories are selected and planted as seedlings in a random mix like you would find growing naturally in the wild. The seedlings are planted very densely—20,000 to 30,000 per hectares as opposed to 1,000 per hectare in commercial forestry. For a period of two to three years, the site is monitored, watered, and weeded, to give the nascent forest every chance to establish itself….

An engineer with a native zeal for quantifying systems, Sharma turned Miyawaki’s method into a set of assembly line instructions. Using an algorithm similar to Toyota’s assembly line that produces several different types of cars, each with its own requirements, he derived his own formula to make a multi-layered forest with plantings that also have different time, space, and other needs. Although his company offers consultation, training, and the actual building of forests, anyone can email Afforestt and receive access to Sharma’s graphs and instructions for planting a forest, start to finish. “Dr. Miyawaki invented this process, and whatever I understood of the methodology I wrote it as a standard operating procedure, so it could be replicated,” says Sharma.