2,020 – that’s the number in the mini forest comprising of young trees, shrubs, creepers. From Jamun to Mahua to Vaagai and smaller creepers, all set up in an area of 23,000 sq ft is the result of a proven method called the ‘Miyawaki Method’.
Where, you ask? Along the banks of River Cooum, in the heart of Chennai.
Japanese Botanist Akira Miyawaki conceptualized and developed the Miyawaki Method, a practice of restoring lands with natural forests, brimming with species native to the land. Since the 90s this method has been widely adopted in Japan and eventually traveled to other parts of the world, restoring forest cover in degraded lands, and adding a pop of green in between the concretes in cities. The famed forests are now growing in cities such as Bengaluru, Delhi, and Hyderabad and have now reached Chennai.
The best thing about Miyawaki forests is that they are self-sustaining ecosystems that are cost and resource-intensive only during the first two years. However, as soon as they take off, they turn out to be a shelter for birds, insects, and small animals, creating a thriving ecosystem of their own.
Alby John Varghese, Greater Chennai Corporation’s (GCC) Regional Deputy Commissioner (South), says that the forest at Kotturpuram, along the canal banks, is the first of many which led to the project near Cooum. By the end of 2020, GCC plans on developing 10 such forests in the south Chennai region. Other such projects are underway in the north and central regions of the city as well. These projects came to fruition with help from a private start-up called EasyForest.
“The space was particularly prone to regular dumping of construction debris. I myself made arrangements to clear it two to three times before coming up with the Miyawaki idea,” Alby says.
GCC has developed Miyawaki forests in two other areas – one in an apartment complex in Valasaravakkam and another in Mugalivakkam.
While an NGO called Trees Trust had helped with the second project, NGO Thuvakkam had come on board for the third. More private entities are getting involved in this process and creating these forests without the involvement of the (GCC).
While the Corporation spent about Rs 15 lakh at Kotturpuram, the biggest Miyawaki forest yet is coming up at Puzhudhivakkam in Perungudi, which is being developed in a 10,000 sq ft area. For this project, Bengaluru-based Say Trees has come on board, with an estimated plan of spending about Rs 200 per tree.
The benefits of such forests in urban spaces are multi-fold. In addition to being clean and green, they also help increase the city’s lung space.
Soon, when the trees grow stronger, the space can also be used by walkers and joggers.
By the end of 2020, the Greater Chennai Corporation plans on developing 10 such forests in the south Chennai region alone.