Scientists say that the use of some cultivated ecosystems can be useful for achieving climate goals, given that mixed forests can store 40 times more carbon than plantations of a single species. Miyawaki forests are designed to regenerate the earth in much less time than the more than 70 years it takes for a forest to recover on its own.
In addition, they are able to attract migratory birds and increase urban biodiversity. In the Netherlands, the IVN Nature Education conservation group has helped cities and families plant 100 100 Miyawaki-style forests since 2015.
It is on track to double this number by 2022. In addition to them, other groups in Belgium and France have recently created at least 40 mini forests. The first in France was planted in March 2018, alongside a busy four-lane road on the edge of Paris.
The work was actively carried out by the local community in the neighborhood, and its primary objective was to reduce noise and filter polluted air. Also in Toulouse, in March, a small forestry group planted 1,200 saplings on a plot of 400 square meters.
In 2017, researchers from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands monitored the newly planted mini forests and concluded that they retain a biodiversity often richer than nearby natural forests. "This is mainly due to the young age of the forests and the less thick plant canopy - explained to the Guardian Fabrice Ottburg, an animal ecologist who conducted the Wageningen study - This allows sunlight to directly reach the flowering plants that attract the pollinators."
Nicolas de Brabandère, Belgian naturalist and founder of Urban Forest Belgium, started planting Miyawaki-style forests in 2016, organizing volunteers and local authorities to plant 300 saplings on a strip of grassland.
Now his first forest is 3 meters high and his floor is a thick layer of humus. The participatory nature and the speed of growth of mini forests attract people, and de Brabandère foresees a bright future for movement.
“Every time I tell the story, everyone likes it. So I have a feeling that the trend will continue." To restore biodiversity and combat the climate crisis, very dense mini forests are springing up throughout Europe, inspired by the work of the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who planted more than 1,000 similar forests in Japan, Malaysia and other states of Asia .
They are often located in school yards or along roads, near large traffic arteries. Forests may be as small as a tennis court, but they grow 10 times faster, become 30 times denser and 100 times more biodiverse than those planted with conventional methods.
This is achieved by planting very close trees, at least three per square meter and by using native varieties adapted to local conditions. A wide variety of plant species (about 40) must be planted to recreate the layers of a natural forest.