Advertisement Close

Miyawaki-style Reforestation in Jordan

posted on: Jun 15, 2022

Miyawaki-style Reforestation in Jordan
(Photo Credit: MONGABAY)

By: Kimothy Wong / Arab America Contributing Writer

Since 2018, Deema Assaf, a Jordanian architect, and Motoharu Nochi, a Japanese environmentalist, have planted three such forests in Amman, Jordan the largest of which is only 250 square meters (2,700 square feet). Their mission: is to map out a plan to restore Jordan’s vanishing forest ecosystems while also linking urban residents to nature.

These are some of the first forests in the Middle East to be created using the Miyawaki method, which allows for the rapid growth of mature forests on nearly any scale in a few decades.

The initiative involves substantial research and experimentation to identify and propagate native species in a land with only 0.03 percent tree cover and where tree planting is becoming more popular, but knowledge about native flora is scattered.

What Is The Miyawaki Method?

(Photo Credit: TheBetterIndia)

The Miyawaki method is used to create urban forests in Urban Forests. Miyawaki urban forests are fascinating, complex ecosystems that are in harmony with today’s soil and climate conditions.

This technique applies worldwide, regardless of soil or climatic conditions, and has successfully created over 2000 forests. Doctor Akira Miyawaki, a botanist and professor, invented the technique in 1980. He was awarded the 2006 Blue Planet Prize, the Nobel Prize’s ecological equivalent.

(Photo Credit: CANPLANT)

We can create native urban forest ecosystems much faster using this methodology. Natural processes and diversity inspire the method: 15 to 30 species of trees and shrubs are planted together. This plant community gets along well and is perfectly adapted to the local weather conditions. The habitat thus created will become more complex over time, attracting a wide range of biodiversity.

The vegetation becomes much denser than in conventional plantations, and the structure resembles a mature natural forest. It is a multi-story structure with various levels of vegetation. The forest thus constructed provides numerous benefits in the form of ecosystem services. Allowing a forest to recover on its own would take about 200 years. The Miyawaki method achieves a similar result in 20 years.

Reforestation in Jordan

Jordan’s first Miyawaki forests were created through the collaboration of Assaf, an architect specializing in green and sustainable design, and Nochi, a former businessman who devoted his life to “greening” the Earth after witnessing the devastation caused by industrial pollution in Southeast Asia.

They were drawn together by a shared interest in food forests. They discovered the Miyawaki method at a workshop in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which has an arid climate similar to the Middle East.

“We felt that if they could grow forests there, we could grow forests in Jordan,” Nochi explained.

Nochi Motoharu (Photo Credit: Euronews)

Assaf and Nochi are the first in the region to build three Miyawaki-style small forests in Amman. In November 2018, they planted their first Despite the absence of support for their concept, the two persevered, and in November 2018, a generous family in West Amman gave their 107-square-meter garden as a prototype site.

Assaf and Nochi excavated the site, mixed the dirt to produce an ideal soil structure, then planted 380 seedlings of 23 native species for ten days. Among the trees they planted were Eastern Strawberry Trees, Aleppo Oak, Mt. Tabor Oak, and Palestinian Pistachio.

The project was successful; the seedlings had grown into a dense forest with three and four-meter trees within two years. The land is now known as the first Miyawaki Forest in the Arab world.

Since then, the two have planted two more Miyawaki Forests in Amman. “It’s been incredible to see the methodology succeed and what it can give for Jordan,” Deema added.

Fosters a Robust Local Ecosystem

The conservation of Jordan’s native species is at the heart of Deema’s purpose. Many of the plants she works with are critically endangered, with only about 30 remaining in the country. “If one of those species went extinct, the entire ecosystem would collapse, so we need these native species to keep Jordan alive.”

According to theory, planting forests of complementary species rather than selecting species based on their traits should result in a more diversified plant ecosystem that is more resistant to diseases, pests, and other challenges.

Assaf stated, “So far, this is the model that comes closest to how nature works.” “It takes inspiration from what nature would choose as a stable plant community.” I’ve never seen another artificial forest like this.”

(Photo Credit: Euronews)

Yet, from recognizing potential natural vegetation (PNV) to harvesting seeds from native trees, this seemingly “natural” results from intensive research and efforts.

Nochi and Assaf obtained this information through forest monitoring and collective knowledge mobilization years, including reading books, reaching out to Facebook communities, and interviewing tree nursery specialists.

They’ve collected seeds from roughly 40 native species, which Mujeb Nursery is growing for public sale and forest use.

Check out Arab America’s blog here!