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Recovering lost forest cover: Can Miyawaki Forests be a game change?

By ANM Desk

India, which is surpassing China to become the most populous country, is in dire need of not only checking its fast losing green cover but to also make up the loss.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, during his monthly radio broadcast of June, Man Ki Baat, besides other things also mentioned Miyawaki forestry, which helps fast growth of forests.

Beyond politics, this is an extremely important reference when according to a report published in March 2023, India is ranked second largest country with the fastest rate of deforestation.

Miyawaki forests, as mentioned by PM Modi can become a trail blazer when India is fast losing its green cover. The country was ranked second only after Brazil. In the last 30 years, between 2015 and 2020, average deforestation of 668,400 hectares (ha), was noted in the report by Utility Bidder, a United Kingdom-based comparison site for energy and utility costs.

Checking deforestation while recovering the green cover is most important now as India has seen the biggest increase in deforestation, with a difference of 284,400 ha in forestry loss between 1990 and 2020, as per the report.

Urbanisation and demands of housing for the growing population is one of the major causes of deforestation, as per the report. India, which is surpassing China to become the most populous country, is in dire need of not only checking its fast losing green cover but to also make up the loss. “India has had to compensate for the increase in residents — this has come at a cost in the way of deforestation,” mentions the report.

While India lost 384,000 ha of forests between 1990 and 2000, the figure rose to 668,400 ha between 2015 and 2020. Zambia recorded the second biggest deforestation increase for the same period, with a rise to 189,710 ha between 2015 and 2020, compared to 36,250 ha from 1990-2020.

In the backdrop of fast advancing climate change impact, traditional methods of deforestation will not be able to meet the demand to cover up the loss. Measures like Miyawaki forest, which helps in fast recovery of green-cover loss can prove to be viable options.

Miyawaki forest

This method of forestry is named after Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. The methodology was developed in the 1970s with the basic objective of densifying green cover on a small parcel of land.

The method involves planting two to four different types of indigenous trees within every square meter of the plot area. Because the plants are so close together, they shoot up quickly, competing for sunlight. Thus they grow to their full length within around three years.

The Miyawaki method uses indigenous plants, so they are mostly self-sustaining and do not require regular maintenance like manuring and watering.

How Miyawaki Forestry Method works

For afforestation, it is important to choose indigenous variety of trees that can absorb the dust particles and are majorly self-sustainable. These indigenous varieties also help in absorbing surface temperature.

In India, indigenous varieties like Neem, Amla, Gel, Arjun and Ashok can be used to create the forest cover. These trees can grow fast and are usually the taller varieties which do not spread much in width. The other advantages with these varieties are the shorter circumference of their roots.

Why it is urgent to check deforestation

Although global forest loss only modestly decreased in 2021, the crucial climate goal of stopping deforestation by 2030 would still be missed, according to an assessment.

Decrease In deforestation by 6.3 percent compared to the 2018-20 baseline, according to the 2022 Forest Declaration Assessment published on October 24, 2022, is not sufficient to reach the goal of checking deforestation in the given time.

A 10 per cent annual reduction is needed to be on course to halt deforestation completely by 2030.

Some 145 countries affirmed their commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow (2021).

It is therefore important to adopt methods like Miyawaki forestry which can quickly compensate for the lost green cover by quick growth of forests besides completely checking deforestation.

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