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Miyawaki Pocket Forest – Comprehensive Guide


Miyawaki Pocket Forest – Comprehensive Guide

The Miyawaki pocket forest is an innovative reforestation method that is gaining popularity around the world, especially in urban areas. The technique, developed by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, allows the rapid creation of biodiverse, dense forests in small areas. It is a response to the modern challenges of urbanisation, climate change and biodiversity loss. By using this method, it is possible to transform even small areas into healthy, functional ecosystems that provide important ecological and social services.

Who was Akira Miyawaki?

Akira Miyawaki (1928-2021) was a prominent Japanese botanist who dedicated his life to the study of plant ecology and their natural habitats. His work focused on restoring natural ecosystems, resulting in the creation of the method that now bears his name. Inspired by the work of European ecologists and traditional Japanese plant knowledge, Miyawaki developed a technique that allows native forests to be reconstructed in a short period of time, using native flora. His research on primary forests in Japan showed that primary forests are more diverse and stable than monocultures or artificial afforestation, which became the foundation of his method.

Basics of the Miyawaki Method

The Miyawaki method is based on several key principles that together form an effective planting system:

Native Plant Species

The selection of native species is crucial to the success of a pocket forest. Native plants are best adapted to local climate and soil conditions, increasing their chances of survival and growth. These plants create a diverse ecosystem that supports biodiversity, from vegetation to insects and animals. Examples of such species can include local deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials that have historically occurred in the region. Research has shown that such diversity promotes a healthy ecosystem, as species diversity provides stability and resistance to disease and pests.

Planting density

Plants are planted very close to each other, simulating conditions in natural forests. This density encourages plants to support each other, leading to faster growth. Up to three to five seedlings can be planted per square metre, creating a dense and compact ecosystem. This density means that plants have to compete for light and space, which stimulates their upward growth and the development of their root systems. As a result, plants grow faster and create a stable, self-sustaining ecosystem in less time.

Soil preparation

The soil is specially prepared before planting. This process involves enriching the soil with organic materials, such as compost, to provide the right conditions for plant growth. In addition, the soil is aerated and adapted to the needs of specific plant species, increasing its ability to retain water and nutrients. Biochar is also often used to improve the soil structure and its ability to retain water, which is crucial during periods of drought. Soil preparation can also include the introduction of soil micro-organisms to promote healthy plant growth.

No Chemicals

No pesticides or fertilisers are used in the Miyawaki method. Natural methods of plant protection are preferred, which promotes a healthy and balanced ecosystem. As a result, flora and fauna thrive in harmony, without the negative impact of chemicals on the environment. Natural plant protection measures, such as the use of pest repellent plants, the support of natural insect predators and the use of compost as fertiliser, help to maintain the health of the ecosystem without the use of harmful substances.

Minimal Maintenance

After the initial growth period, which can last 2 to 3 years, the pocket forest requires minimal maintenance. The plants become self-sustaining and the ecosystem begins to function autonomously. The forest begins to self-regulate, which means it needs less human intervention, while becoming more resilient to environmental changes. As a result, the costs and labour involved in maintaining the forest are significantly lower compared to traditional afforestation methods. Natural processes, such as plant life cycles and natural ecological succession, take over as the forest develops.

Steps of creating a Miyawaki Pocket Forest

Analysis of the terrain

The first step is a thorough analysis of the land on which the forest is to be created. This includes an assessment of the soil, climatic conditions and water availability. It is also worth considering the presence of other ecosystems and the impact of any pollution. The soil analysis should include pH tests, nutrient analysis and an assessment of the soil structure. Understanding the properties of the soil allows it to be properly prepared and adapted to the needs of the plants. Climatic conditions, such as average rainfall, temperatures and sunshine, are also crucial. Understanding the local climatic conditions allows the selection of appropriate plant species and planning of care measures.

Selection of Native Species

The selection of suitable plant species is crucial. It is worth consulting local botanists or ecologists to identify the plants best adapted to the area. These should be species that grow naturally in the area and will support local biodiversity. Different floors of the forest, such as tall trees, medium trees and shrubs, should be included to ensure a diverse ecosystem structure. This will make the forest more stable and resilient to environmental changes. It is also important to include plants with different life cycles and habitat requirements to ensure continuity of vegetation cover and to maintain biodiversity throughout the year.

Soil preparation

The soil must be properly prepared. This process includes:

Removal of weeds and stones. It is also worthwhile to carry out a deep loosening of the soil to improve soil structure and aeration.

Aeration of the soil, which improves its structure. This can be achieved by mechanical loosening or the introduction of organic materials such as compost or biochar.

Adding organic materials such as compost to enrich the soil with nutrients. Composting organic waste on site can also be an effective way to improve soil quality.

Adjusting the pH of the soil, if necessary. In some cases, you may need to add lime or sulphur to correct the pH and create optimal conditions for plant growth.


Plants are planted in dense groups, usually at 30-50 cm intervals. It is important that each seedling has adequate space to grow, but at the same time is close enough to the others to benefit from mutual support. Planting should take place at appropriate times of the year, preferably in spring or autumn, when climatic conditions are most favourable for the growth of young plants. It is also important to plant at the right depth and with enough soil around the roots to ensure stability and access to nutrients.


After planting, the area is mulched with a layer of organic material such as straw, leaves or tree bark. Mulching helps to retain moisture, reduce weeds and improve soil structure. Mulching also protects the soil from erosion and helps maintain soil temperature, which is particularly important in extreme weather conditions. It is worth replenishing the mulch layer on a regular basis to ensure continued soil protection and nutrient supply as organic materials decompose.

Care and Monitoring

During the initial period, the pocket forest requires regular care:

Watering: regular watering is key, especially in the first few months after planting. Drip irrigation systems can be an effective solution to ensure a constant supply of water to the plants without wasting resources.

Weed removal: weeds can compete with young plants for nutrients and water, so they need to be removed. Manual weed removal methods or mulching can be used to reduce weed growth.

Plant health monitoring: Regular monitoring of plant health allows for early detection and resolution of problems such as diseases or pests. It is important to respond to problems naturally, such as by introducing natural insect predators or using organic pesticides.

One Moree Tree Foundation Plants with the Miyawaki Method

The One More Tree Foundation also organises pocket forest planting events using the Miyawaki method, engaging local communities in creating sustainable and biodiverse ecosystems in urban and peri-urban areas. These initiatives are part of the foundation’s broader mission to combat climate change and restore natural habitats. By working with volunteers, schools, companies and public institutions, One More Tree supports environmental education and awareness-raising about the benefits of creating green spaces.

The Foundation also provides technical and technical support, helping to select suitable plant species, prepare the soil and organise the entire planting process. These events not only contribute to improving the quality of the environment, but also integrate local communities, promoting collective action for nature conservation.

In addition, the One More Tree Foundation enables participation in the planting of pocket forests as part of employee volunteering, offering companies the opportunity to involve their employees in environmentally friendly activities. These types of initiatives not only strengthen social commitment and environmental responsibility of companies, but also build teamwork and motivate employees by working together to protect the environment.

Benefits of Miyawaki Pocket Forests

Rapid growth

Miyawaki pocket forest grows much faster than traditional forests. Plants reach maturity in 20-30 years, compared to 200-300 years for natural forests. The rapid growth is a result of the density of planting, the mutual support of the plants and the specially prepared soil. With rapid growth, these forests can quickly begin to perform their ecological functions, such as carbon sequestration, oxygen production and biodiversity conservation.

Increased Biodiversity

The use of native plant species promotes biodiversity. These forests become home to many species of insects, birds and small mammals that support the health of the ecosystem. Biodiversity increases the stability and resilience of the ecosystem to environmental changes and has a positive impact on other aspects such as plant pollination, pest control and soil health. An increase in the number of plant and animal species in pocket forests also contributes to the enrichment of local genetic resources.

Improving Air and Soil Quality

Pocket forests absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, which contributes to improved air quality. In addition, they improve soil structure and composition. The plants’ root systems help with water retention and prevent soil erosion, which is particularly important in urban areas exposed to heavy rainfall and surface runoff. These forests also filter air and water pollutants, which contributes to a healthier urban environment.

Protection against Climate Change

With their ability to sequester carbon, these forests can play an important role in the fight against climate change. Plants store carbon in their biomass and soil, which helps to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Pocket forests also create microclimates that can mitigate temperature extremes, reducing the heat island effect in cities and improving the comfort of residents.

Aesthetics and Social Benefits

Pocket forests improve the aesthetics of urban spaces, creating green oases that can provide recreation and education for local communities. This type of afforestation can also support the mental and physical health of residents by offering places to relax, walk and connect with nature. Studies show that the presence of greenery in cities has a positive impact on the wellbeing of residents and reduces stress.

Challenges and constraints

Initial costs

Creating a pocket forest requires an investment, both financial and in the form of human labour. These costs include soil preparation, purchase of seedlings and initial maintenance. Although the long-term maintenance costs are low, the initial outlay can be challenging for some communities or organisations. However, it is worth noting that the environmental and social benefits outweigh these costs in the long term.

Spatial requirements

Although the Miyawaki method is adapted to small spaces, it still requires a suitable site that can be transformed into a forest. In cities, where space is limited, this can be a challenge. However, it is worth noting that even small patches of green space can make a significant difference to local ecosystems and the quality of life of residents. Creative use of available spaces, such as areas around buildings or along roads, can help implement this method.

Weed and pest management

In the early stages of growth, it may be necessary to manage weeds and pests to ensure healthy plant development.Natural methods such as the use of pest repellent plants, the introduction of natural insect predators or the use of organic pesticides can be effective, but require knowledge and experience. Working with local ecologists and experts can help to manage these challenges.

Water requirements

A pocket forest requires regular watering, especially in the early months. In regions with limited water availability, this can be problematic. Effective water management, such as the use of drip irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting and mulching, can help minimise water use. It is also worth choosing plant species that are adapted to local water conditions, which reduces the need for additional irrigation.

Examples of Implementation

Urban Forests in India

In India, the Miyawaki method has been applied in a number of cities such as Bangalore and Chennai, where urban forests have been created to improve air quality and offer recreational space for residents. In Bangalore, the ‘My Miyawaki Forest’ project includes dozens of small forests on school grounds, parks and along roads, helping to increase urban greenery and improve the microclimate. These initiatives involve local communities, students and volunteers, which further strengthens community links and environmental education.

Tiny Forests in Europe

In Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and Belgium, the Miyawaki method has gained popularity as a way to restore biodiversity in urban areas. Pocket forests are being created on school grounds, parks and along roads. In the Netherlands, the organisation ‘IVN Natuureducatie’ has initiated the ‘Tiny Forest’ project, creating more than 100 small forests across the country. These projects are carried out in cooperation with local communities, schools and municipalities, allowing for the involvement of a wide audience in nature conservation and environmental education.

Projects in Japan

In Japan, where the Miyawaki method originated, pocket forests are being created in a variety of locations, from industrial sites to public spaces, helping to revitalise polluted and degraded areas. For example, in the city of Yokohama, Miyawaki forests have been created on the sites of abandoned factories, helping to improve environmental quality and create new recreational spaces for residents. These projects also demonstrate the effectiveness of the method in rehabilitating industrially degraded areas.

Pocket forest in Luboń

To mark Earth Day, the first pocket forest in Luboń was planted behind the Orlen station on Ogrodowa Street on 22 April 2024, with the support of the One More Tree Foundation, Luboń youth and numerous volunteers. The event brought together GSK employees, school children and local residents, who together planted 2 000 tree seedlings of native species, creating a green oasis in the heart of Luboń.


The Miyawaki pocket forest is a revolutionary reforestation method that offers a range of benefits for the environment and urban communities. With rapid growth, increased biodiversity and minimal maintenance requirements, it is an effective tool in the fight against climate change and ecosystem degradation. Although there are some challenges to implementing this method, the benefits outweigh the potential difficulties, making it an attractive option for sustainable urban development and nature conservation. The Miyawaki pocket forest not only contributes to improving environmental quality, but also strengthens social ties and raises environmental awareness among residents.