CHENNAI: After Chitlapakkam faced one of the worst water crises in the city this summer, the residents quickly hit upon innovative ways to preserve water to prevent another scarcity.
About 50 residents, including children, teamed up on Sunday at the SBI Colony park in Chitlapakkam to create a 'Mini Forest' by planting trees through the 'Miyawaki' method, the Japanese way of planting more trees that grow at a faster clip in less space.
After getting permission from the Town Panchayat, they planted 30 trees in a total space of 120 square feet with a two-feet gap between each tree.
What is Miyawaki method?
In the 80s, Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki introduced this method of reforestation to restore indigenous ecosystems. Under this method, the top soil of a selected region is recovered to a depth of 20 to 30 cm by mixing soil and organic compost.
According to a 2010 journal on the effectiveness of the Miyawaki method, positive afforestation results were observed in many parts of the world in just two years, whereas it normally takes a decade for trees to achieve complete growth. The journal says this is a reliable way to create ''native forest with native trees.''
This information had reached tChitlapakkam residents through a local news channel. ''Once we saw it, we immediately decided to adopt this method in streets and parks,'' says Jaikumar of Chitlapakkam Rising, an NGO that volunteered for the lake restoration.
It takes four days to set up a tree in the Miyawaki method. Under the 'Greening Chitlapakkam' cause, the residents gathered in the SBI colony park every morning in the last week to dig up pits four-feet deep. The pits were left to dry for one day after that. ''Sugarcane bagasse, vermicompost, dry leaves, cocopeat, and other manure were mixed with sand and dumped in the dry pit for three days,'' says Jaikumar. Following this, the saplings were planted.
Interestingly, the Miyawaki method was pioneered not just to enhance growth but to promote native trees as well.
Dinakaran R, another volunteer of Chitlapakkam Rising said after surveying the natural habitat of the locality they decided to plant a variety of trees.
''Veppamaram (Neem), Poovarasan (Portia tree), Naval maran (Java plum), Thekku maram (Teak), and Iluppai (Mahua) were planted,'' he said.
Can it be done easily? ''Yes,'' says Jaikumar. ''All we need is a small place in the backyard, saplings and compost.''
The Miyawaki method is popular across the world and is becoming popular in India's urban spaces. Several industries, factories, and residential apartments in top metropolitan cities have adopted this method to increase green cover amidst the concrete jungle.
There are also training classes conducted in the city by professionals for adopting Miyawaki in industries and public spaces.