The Process Explained
These four steps must be adhered to for a Miyawaki forest to thrive:
Step One: ResearchThe first step is identifying which native plants are most appropriate for the area. Within a natural forest, the four categories (main-tree species, sub-species, shrubs, and ground-covering herbs) of plants are layered. The Miyawaki method adheres to this layering process and each category’s seedlings are planted at varying depths. Understanding the inherent ecology of the site and selecting as many locally indigenous species as possible for each layer will help to achieve balance and maximize diversity. If local provenance plant stock can not be sourced, it can be grown from seed collected from the nearest intact bushland.
Step Two: Preparing The SoilThe actual planting of the seeds is only done once the soil has been properly analysed and prepared. In most cases, within heavily urbanised areas the soil of an area has been significantly impacted by human activity, requiring what Tim calls a “rapid restoration of the soil”. “We harness the soil-building properties of pioneer plant species, to ensure that what we do grow will do so quickly. As they grow, they foster a healthy environment below the surface where soil microbes and mycorrhizal fungi can thrive. Which in turn provides nutrients and soil structure that will support the growth of secondary and tertiary species,” said Tim.
Step Three: PlantingAfter the soil has been prepared comes the planting process. As a natural forest’s flora will inherently cultivate closely together, the seedlings of each respective layer are densely planted. The dense nature of a Miyawaki forest not only fosters biodiversity, it creates a higher resistance to flood and landslide, as well as increasing carbon capture and pollution filtration.
Step Four: Observe And UpkeepThe fourth and final step of the process is monitoring and care of the site. This is where conventional gardening such as watering, mulching, and ensuring adequate sunlight reaches the seedlings is instituted. Generally considered the most time-consuming process, it usually takes one to three years of maintenance for a forest to then be able to sustain itself naturally.