Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan has been tweeting about (tweet below) and inaugurating Miyawaki Urban Forests in major cities of Pakistan and everyone has been lauding this great initiative as everyone knows anything “forest” refers to trees and trees are great for us and for the environment as a whole, but what exactly are Miyawaki Urban Forests? And are they even useful? Well, the one word answer to this question is “yes” and a three word answer to this question is “yes, incredibly useful” but let’s get into an in-depth discussion of what a Miyawaki Urban Forest is and why is it crucial for all cities nowadays.
I have launched urban forestry on the lines of Miyawaki technique in Japan where the trees grow 10 times faster and 30 times denser and is the best way to fight pollution. 50 sites have been chosen in Lahore. First experiment was in Liberty roundabout in 2020. pic.twitter.com/iOJcYi6sSn
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 13, 2021
What is a Miyawaki Urban Forest?
In very simple terms, it is a technique of growing lots of native plants in a specific way in different areas of cities to create “urban forests”. The plants are grown very close together so that they grow upwards while competing for sunlight instead of growing sideways. In this way plants grow longer in less time.
This brilliant and much-needed method was introduced by a Japanese botanist named Akira Miyawaki, hence the name “Miyawaki forestation technique” or “Miyawaki Urban Forests” etc. This technique is also referred to as “Potted Seedling Method.” The Miyawaki technique ensures quick creation of thick and multilayered urban forests of native/indigenous plants – no wonder it is so popular and successful!
Now that we know what a Miyawaki Urban Forest is, let’s move on to the next most important question..
What are the benefits of Miyawaki Urban Forests?
To answer this question properly first we have to realise that Pakistan is a country where forests constitute 5.2% of the total land area of the country [Source], which is way below the required 20% for any country. Pakistan is a country which is highly vulnerable to the harmful impacts of climate change. It also faces a lot of challenges like rampant and unplanned urbanization which is turning Pakistan into a concrete jungle, declining water table levels with an impending water crisis as well as hazardous levels of air pollution, so the need to afforestation in Pakistan is dire. Cities of Pakistan have become “Urban Heat Islands” with temperatures getting extremely high during summers leading to heat stokes during the recent heat waves due to climate change. Thus, the need for urban forests of any sort of green cover cannot stressed upon more. Green cover will help solve the issue of declining water table levels, increasing air pollution and noise pollution, lowering temperature in cities, helping in sequestration of carbon and releasing oxygen into the environment as well as ensuring survival and propagation of indigenous plant species and other insect, pollinator and animal species that depend on these plants for their survival.
The good news is that the government of Pakistan has already planted successful Miyawaki forest in Liberty roundabout Lahore and have now announced 50 more such forests will be planted in different sites in Lahore and 20 will be planted in Islamabad.
Pakistan is at a war with environmental degradation and climate change, and there is only one way to win this war and that is by increasing its green cover in whatever way possible, through Miyawaki Urban Forests in the cities or through afforestation in places where natural tree cover was less or through reforestation efforts in areas where unchecked deforestation has wrecked havoc during the past few years. Regardless of your political affiliation, this effort by the current government of Pakistan to make Pakistan greener should be supported and appreciated by everyone as this will ensure a healthier life for our future generations. All of us Pakistanis should be united in our fight against climate change! Let’s make Pakistan greener, cleaner and more beautiful together.
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Founder of Envpk.com. A passionate environmentalist and researcher by education and at heart. A proud tree-hugger.