In the fall of 2021, a region in Ontario Canada launched their Microforest Planting Program, planting native trees and shrubs in eight sites. This is not an isolated project.
Many cities across the world have taken up "the Miyawaki method", developed by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who adapted the Japanese tradition of “Chinju no Mori”, sacred shrine forests, to help restore 1500 indigenous forests in Japan and 14 other countries.
Simply put, a “microforest” is a patch of land, about the size of a tennis court, densely planted with tree- and shrub species that are or could be native to an urban region, chosen to create “layers” of greenery just like in a natural forest.
These small clusters of native vegetation bring a world of benefits, including better air quality, fighting the urban heat island effect, restoring biodiversity, and providing local residents with space to play in and observe nature up close. This is especially helpful in low-income communities, often far from green spaces and more vulnerable to the effects of pollution.
Shubhendu Sharma of Afforestt, an early adopter of the Miyawaki method, describes how he grew a decades-old microforest in his backyard in just a few years, for the price of an iPhone.
Barriers like space and maintenance costs may keep you from building a microforest of your own, but here at the Daily Difference, we’re all about taking small steps today that will become strides tomorrow.
You can use this database of native plant species to learn more about the natural vegetation in your region and reintroduce some of these species to your backyard. Get your neighbours and friends involved, or even ask your municipality to add afforested zones to schoolyards and parks, like Waterloo Region.
It’s not a silver bullet against climate change, but a microforest can improve a community’s quality of life in many, measurable and immeasurable ways.