It is important to note that forests don’t have to be necessarily far flung reserves and isolated from human life. Instead, they can easily be grown where we reside not to mention in our cities. These were the words echoed by Shubhendu Sharma, a TED fellow, who specializes in dense bio-diverse mini-forests that boast of native species. He successfully undertakes these projects by simply engineering microbes, soil, and biomass, in order to kick-start the entire project.
Was initially an industrial engineer working with Toyota India, before interning with Akira Miyawaki a forest expert who came to plant a forest at the company’s land. Mr. Miyawaki had exceptional knowledge in forest planting-and using specific methods he could plant and make a forest grow x10 faster. This is something that thrilled Sharma and so his desire for planting forest was conceived. Today, Sharma owns his own company called Afforestt. The company promotes standardized methods of planting fast growing forests in what is seen to be barren lands. What makes his company unique is that he can grow multi-layer forest of 300 trees in an area as small as parking space that can take only 6 cars.
Is actually one thing Mr. Sharma is focused on; nevertheless, he facilitates the professional growth of man-made forests of which can be created in any desired size. He has helped schools, resorts, homes, and even apartment building owners grow their forests. He says that forests can be an integral part of where we live and not necessarily isolated places where animals live.
He tries to explain that in production process; the elements of nature are separated to get a product and the process is in itself irreversible. On the other side of the coin, nature brings things together an atom at a time. And as such, anything needed to make any size of forest is always readily available around us. To begin with, the soil is analyzed to determine the elements that are lacking. At the end of the day, the soil must be porous as possible to ensure successful growth of trees.
If the soil does not have nutrition, microbes are added in order to produce the nutrients naturally. Of course, water must be readily available and enough sunlight to ensure sustainability of plant life.
A survey is undertaken to determine the native species of trees, too. Thereafter, the trees are divided into 4 groups that will ultimately form the layers; the shrubs, tree layer, the sub-tree layer, and canopy layer. A ratio is then fixed and decision on the percentage of each will grow in a specific place is clearly outlined. We mix the tree ensuring that those that belong to one layer are not planted next to each other.
The first three months
You might imagine that nothing is happening and the forest is not growing at all. However, the roots are constantly forming a mesh that is vital for holding the soil together. Further, fungi and microbes that live around these networks are actively participating in the distribution of nutrition.
The moment roots are established, the forest start growing at a faster rate. When mature it becomes so dense that no sunlight reaches the forest ground. And for this reason, weeds will not be able to grow in such unfavorable conditions. The more food the forest gets, the faster it grows. Overall, there is no limit as to where it can reach in regard to height and size of trees.