91-year-old Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki is renowned all over the world for pioneering ‘The Miyawaki Forest Method’. This method was initially introduced in Japan and is now spread the world over.
It was in 2018, during their engineering days in Pollachi, that Ramachandran (21) and Karvendhan (23) were introduced to this method of growing self-sustaining mini forests. This concept sparked a business idea for the two students and eight months later, they launched EasyForest – a start-up that aims to transform Tamil Nadu’s urban landscape.
“We provide the entire service, from soil analysis to the growing of the forest, it comes up to Rs 145 per square feet. If it is just consulting, then it depends on many factors but we charge around Rs 30-40 per square feet. For an academic institution that requires the whole service, we offer it to them for zero profit,” he says.
EasyForest turns lawns and barren lands within the campus into mini forests. Apart from growing forests, EasyForest also provides a host of technical expertise and knowledge on the soil, vegetation, and maintenance of the green space.”If you think about it, lawns provide no functional purpose. So we urge people to convert these areas into mini-forests which become the much-needed green lung,” Ramachandran adds.
For academic institutions that have the manpower and resources, the company provides the layout and transfers the technical knowledge without a fee.
For corporates and industrial spaces, the company visits the sites, conducts soil tests, consults local farmers on the ideal vegetation and native species that grow here, and then proceed to grow the forests for them for a nominal fee.
EasyForest grows trees on the inspiration from the Miyawaki method but with a twist of their own.
The EasyForest method
“We always grow native varieties of trees. And unlike Miyawaki, we grow hundreds of varieties of species within a tiny space. This way, nutrients are taken from several levels of the soil,” he adds.
There are 5 layers of planting. Layer 1 comprises big trees that take up space, like banyan, neem, peepal, etc. The second layer is comprised of trees that grow vertically, such as papaya, palm trees, and others. The third layer is made up of smaller species such as lemon, orange, etc are planted.
Flowering plants such as Rose, Jasmine, hibiscus make up the fourth layer and the final layer comprises of horizontal plants like creepers – which are then planted at the very end, as they grow extremely fast. These plants are planted at a maximum distance of 4ft and a minimum of 2.5ft.
The duo says that now they can now plant a forest in 25,000 square feet of land in 3 weeks. Currently, they can plant over 130 species of plants and trees on a 1,500 square foot area.
“You maintain them by not encroaching upon them. Never step into the forests,” Ramachandran emphasizes. Drip irrigation systems are also set up for the 25,000 to 30,000 square feet projects by EasyForest.
“After 3 years, these forests naturally become self-sustaining. There would be no need to water them regularly. They also turn into natural habitats of tiny birds like sparrows, when they are left untouched,” Ramachandran adds.