Amandeep Singh, (Right), along with another volunteer during the plantation drive in 2019 (photo: special arrangement)

Srinagar: It started in Japan, is being increasingly adopted in other parts of the world, and has finally shown results in Jammu and Kashmir too.

The Miyawaki method of afforestation can be the answer to rapidly dwindling green zones in J&K as have proven the efforts of a volunteer group. The method is named after the famous Japanese botanist and Blue Planet Awardee, Akira Miyawaki.

 
Japanese botanist and Blue Planet Awardee, Akira Miyawaki (Source: Internet)

In June last year, EcoRiders, a Jammu based volunteer group in collaboration with EcoSikh, a transnational Environmental movement based in Punjab, had planted 550 trees on merely 160 square metre (0.31 kanal) area at the cremation ground in Bhour camp in Jammu.

Plantation at the site in June last year (photo: special arrangement)

A year later, the small space is all covered with over 10-feet lush green trees making it the first Miyawaki forest in Jammu and Kashmir.

“It proves that one can grow 30 times denser forest 10 times faster than an average one using the method,” said Amandeep Singh, 29, the Miyawaki expert, who has been at the forefront of the project.

Named ‘Guru Nanak Sacred Jungle’, the forest was established to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of revered Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji celebrated in November 2019.

“If a forest takes 100 years to grow, by using the Miyawaki method it will take only 10 years,” said Aman, who has an MBA degree and has been associated with EcoRiders for many years now.

The plantation site a year later (photo: special arrangement)

“Earlier we used to plant trees on roadsides, but we realised that the survival chances of such plants were not that high and it was also hard to maintain them,” he said.

When they were planting trees at the site last year, Aman had also planted a separate tree not using the method to compare the results a year later.

Amandeep Singh, (Right), along with another volunteer during the plantation drive in 2019 (photo: special arrangement)

“Today that plant is just 2 feet high whereas those planted using the method are eight to 10 feet high,” he said.

Aman was introduced to Miyawaki method by his association with EcoSikh that uses the technique to plant lakhs of trees worldwide.

He attended a workshop by Shubhendu Sharma, India’s foremost expert on forest creation and Miyawaki method who has set up 132 forest in 16 countries.

The method, Aman said, involves plating only native varieties of trees in ratios, which require minor maintenance for the first three years, and are 100 percent self-sustainable.

The plantation site a year later (photo: special arrangement)

Besides it is completely organic.

The first step in creating such a forest is identifying the native trees.

“In our project, we planted 25 native species included Peepal (sacred fig), Ber (Indian jujube), Desi Babool (Acacia), Sheesham (Indian Rose-wood), and Desi Mango,” said Aman.

Plantation at the site in June last year (photo: special arrangement)

After identifying the trees, the method, he said, involves checking the soil texture to determine the area’s water holding capacity, water infiltration, root perforation capacity, nutrient retention, and erodibility.

“We used organic materials like bio-mass, and wheat husk to improve perforation allowing roots to grow quickly. We also used organic materials to improve the water retention capacity,” he said.

Aman said that EcoRiders was looking forward to doing many more such project in J&K, especially in Kashmir.

‘We are all equal in the eyes of nature and we all need trees. As such we all should do our bit,” he said.

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About the Author

A journalist by chance with over five years of experience in reporting, editing, and bucketing local, national and international content for my current organization. I have covered education, health, politics, and human rights. I like working for a daily, though I occasionally try my pen in long-form to connect personal narratives with history.