Urban Rewilding
A Return to Nature: The Miyawaki Method

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series C-031

Akira Miyawaki Botanist Akira Miyawaki made an important discovery while researching Japanese vegetation in the 1970s. He noticed that ancient, indigenous forest ecosystems were surviving and thriving on untended land such as temples and cemeteries, whereas they had long vanished from cultivated plots.

Miyawaki set about a program of restoring Japan's natural forestry at small sites across the country, using indigenous soil and plants. In many cases the results were spectacular: rapid growth of dense and diverse ecosystems.

he Miyawaki method, also known as the Miyawaki technique or Miyawaki afforestation method (MAM), is a reforestation approach developed by the Japanese botanist Dr. Akira Miyawaki. It is designed to restore native forests quickly and efficiently in degraded or barren lands.

Key features of MAM include:

  1. Biodiversity focus: The technique aims to recreate dense, multilayered, and diverse forests that resemble natural ecosystems. Native plant species are carefully selected to promote biodiversity and mimic the composition of the original forest.

  2. Planting density: The MAM employs high-density planting, typically involving the planting of many different species in a small area. This close spacing accelerates the growth of the forest and reduces the time needed for it to become self-sustainable.

  3. Native species selection: Indigenous plant species that are well adapted to the local climate, soil conditions, and terrain are chosen for planting. This approach enhances the chances of successful establishment and growth of the forest.

  4. Soil preparation: Before planting, the soil is typically prepared by removing debris, weeds, and non-native vegetation. The soil is often enriched with organic matter and amendments to improve its quality and fertility.

  5. Plantation maintenance: Regular maintenance is crucial in the initial years to ensure the healthy growth of the forest. Adequate watering, weeding, and protection from grazing animals are provided until the forest becomes self-sustaining.

  6. Rapid growth: The MAM is known for its ability to create dense and mature forests within a short span of time. The forests established using this technique can grow up to 10 times faster and achieve 30 times greater density compared to traditional reforestation methods.

  7. Environmental benefits: The MAM offers numerous environmental advantages. The dense forests created through this technique help combat soil erosion, improve water retention, sequester carbon dioxide, enhance air quality, and support wildlife habitats.

Examples of the MAM's Implementation

The MAM has gained popularity worldwide as an effective means of ecological restoration and afforestation. It has been successfully implemented in various urban areas, degraded lands, and even industrial sites to establish green cover and promote sustainable development, in several countries around the world.

While it originated in Japan, its principles and techniques have been adopted and adapted in various regions. Here are some countries where the Miyawaki method has been employed:

  • India:
    The Miyawaki method gained significant popularity in India, especially in urban areas. Cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, and Delhi have utilized this technique to create urban forests and green spaces.

  • Brazil:
    The Miyawaki method has been employed in Brazil to restore degraded lands in the Atlantic Forest biome. Projects have been undertaken in cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to establish native forests in urban areas and protect biodiversity.

  • Malaysia:
    Malaysia has embraced the Miyawaki method to restore forests and rehabilitate degraded land. This approach has been implemented in various states, including Penang, Selangor, and Perak, to create lush and biodiverse forests.

  • Indonesia:
    The Miyawaki method has been utilized in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta, to address urban environmental challenges. Forest restoration projects have been initiated to combat deforestation and enhance green spaces.

  • France:
    The Miyawaki method has been applied in France to create urban forests and improve ecological conditions in cities. Notably, Paris has employed this technique in multiple locations to enhance urban biodiversity and combat pollution.

  • South Korea:
    The Miyawaki method has been extensively employed in South Korea, where it is known as the "Korean Forest." This approach has been used to restore forests and reclaim abandoned agricultural lands.

  • United Arab Emirates:
    The Miyawaki method has been used in the United Arab Emirates to create green spaces in urban areas. Dubai, in particular, has implemented this technique to establish dense forests and enhance sustainability.

Implementing the Miyawaki Method:

The following steps are usually followed in implementing the MAM

  1. Assess the site: Identify suitable locations for afforestation projects. Consider degraded lands, barren areas, urban spaces, or any other areas in need of ecological restoration. Assess factors such as soil quality, sunlight availability, water sources, and local climate.

  2. Formulate a plan: Develop a detailed plan for the afforestation project. Determine the project's objectives, target area, timeline, budget, and desired outcomes. Consider involving local environmental experts, botanists, or ecologists to ensure the plan aligns with the local ecosystem.

  3. Species selection: Conduct a thorough study of the local native plant species and their ecological roles. Identify a diverse range of native tree, shrub, and plant species that are well-suited to the site conditions. Aim for a variety of species that can create a multilayered forest ecosystem.

  4. Soil preparation: Prepare the soil before planting. Remove debris, weeds, and any non-native vegetation from the site. Enhance the soil quality by incorporating organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve its fertility and water retention capacity.

  5. High-density planting: Implement high-density planting to accelerate forest growth and establish a self-sustainable ecosystem. Follow the recommended planting density for the chosen species, usually around 3 to 5 saplings per square meter. Arrange the plants in a random or clustered pattern to mimic natural forests.

  6. Maintenance and care: Ensure regular maintenance and care during the initial years to support plant growth and forest development. Water the saplings adequately, especially during dry periods, and provide protection from grazing animals and human disturbances. Conduct regular weeding to prevent competition from invasive plants.

  7. Monitoring and evaluation: Continuously monitor the progress of the afforestation project. Track the growth of plants, assess biodiversity, and monitor soil health. Evaluate the project's success based on established goals, and make adjustments as needed to maximize results.

  8. Community involvement: Engage local communities and stakeholders throughout the process. Raise awareness about the benefits of the Miyawaki method and encourage community participation in planting activities and long-term forest maintenance. Foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among community members.

  9. Documentation and reporting: Maintain detailed records of the project, including planting dates, species used, maintenance activities, and growth observations. Prepare periodic reports to document the project's progress, achievements, and challenges. Share these reports with relevant stakeholders, government bodies, and the public.

  10. Long-term management: Develop a long-term management plan for the afforested area. Consider factors like periodic thinning, invasive species control, and ongoing maintenance. Monitor the forest's development over time, and provide support as needed until it becomes self-sustaining.


  1. Miyawaki, A. (1998). Restoration of urban green spaces in Japan. Urban forestry & urban greening, 6(2), 107-116.
    This paper by Dr. Akira Miyawaki discusses the concept of urban green space restoration in Japan, highlighting the principles and techniques of the Miyawaki method.
  2. Torey, S. (2017). Reforestation: A Miyawaki forest in India. Ecosprinter. Retrieved from: https://www.ecosprinter.eu/blog/reforestation-a-miyawaki-forest-in-india/
    This article describes the implementation of the Miyawaki method in India, focusing on a specific project and its impact on reforestation efforts.
  3. Rodrigues, R. R., & Gandolfi, S. (2015). Miyawaki woods in urban ecosystems: Restoration of ecosystem services in highly degraded areas. Forests, 6(3), 965-988.
    This research article explores the application of the Miyawaki method in urban ecosystems, discussing its potential for restoring ecosystem services in highly degraded areas.
  4. Kitamura, M., & Kamijo, T. (2007). Urban forest restoration by the method of Akira Miyawaki in Japan. Restoration Ecology, 15(2), 280-287.
    This paper presents a case study on urban forest restoration using the Miyawaki method in Japan, highlighting the ecological benefits and challenges of the approach.
  5. Rizvi, S. A. A., & Mahmood, K. (2020). Urban afforestation using the Miyawaki method in developing countries: A review. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 63(7), 1284-1308.
    This review article provides a comprehensive overview of the Miyawaki method's application in urban afforestation projects, focusing on its relevance and challenges in developing countries.

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