November 10th, 2016
India’s growing population, accompanied by mammoth urbanization is causing massive destruction of forests and pushing the environment to the brink of a catastrophe. While we are heading towards our self-made destruction, there are many individuals working tirelessly to preserve the environment. Shubhendu Sharma is one such individual. Shubhendu worked as an engineer with Toyota before leaving his high paying job to embark on a mission to convert every barren piece of land in the cities into a self-sustainable forest. And so far, he has created 85 such forests in 28 cities across 6 countries, including Iran and Pakistan.
Shubhendu got this idea when he volunteered to assist Akira Miyawaki, a Japanese botanist and plant ecology expert, to cultivate a forest on the company premises where he worked. While he was volunteering, he thought about replicating the model in India too. After some research, he found that it is by far the fastest method to create a forest using potential vegetation. As a Pilot project using the Miyawaki technology, he started to cultivate a forest in his backyard in Uttarakhand, and in no time, saw it flourish. The result of using Miyawaki method was almost six times better than any other plantation method. People liked the idea a lot when he posted the results on social media, and asked him to do the same for them in their backyards. This gave him a lot of confidence.
But what is the Miyawaki Method?
The Miyawaki method of afforestation was discovered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, and involves planting a number of different types of trees close together in a small area. Closely planting many random trees in a small area enriches the green cover and reinforces the richness of the land. This will lead to co-existence of plants and also leads to each plant drawing vital nutrients from the others to become strong and healthy.
After finding that people were interested in creating green spaces, Shubhendu quit his job. He reached out to different NGOs to find assistance and support for his project, but did not get a favourable response. So, he launched his own initiative called ‘Afforest’ in Bangalore, which is an end-to-end service provider for creating natural self-sustainable forests. He was the only member when he started it, but now has 8 members in his team.
When people reach out and hire them to build forests on their lands, the team uses the Miyawaki technology to develop a forest which takes around 2 years. There are many other companies who have availed their services. Speaking to The Logical Indian, Shubhendu said,” Till the last square of barren land is full of greenery, we will work.”
Afforest works in two ways. One is where they provide end to end service to their clients by cultivating a forest in their owned spaces. The other is by providing project management and on-site consultation to the client.
Afforest has created 85 forests so far in 28 cities across 6 countries, and till they cover all the barren lands and make them green,they don’t want to quit.
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