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Miniature urban forests planted using a method invented by a Japanese botanist in the 1970s are growing in popularity. They are dense plantings bursting with biodiversity that can thrive in areas the size of a tennis court.
Known as 'Miyawaki' forests, the trees grow more quickly and absorb more CO2 than plantations grown for timber.
Miniature forests are springing up on patches of land in urban areas around the world, often planted by local community groups using a method inspired by Japanese temples. With the rebuild of Christchurch following the earthquakes there has been an opportunity to consider this.
The idea is simple – take brownfield sites, plant them densely with a wide variety of native seedlings and let them grow with minimal intervention. The result is complex ecosystems perfectly suited to local conditions that improve biodiversity, grow quickly and absorb more CO2.
The method is based on the work of Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. He found that protected areas around temples, shrines and cemeteries in Japan contained a huge variety of native vegetation that co-existed to produce resilient and diverse ecosystems. This contrasted with the conifer forests – non-indigenous trees grown for timber – that dominated the landscape.
Every city and town in New Zealand should be rethinking their urban landscape as climate change impacts become more apparent.