What is Miyawaki method?

Akira Miyawaki is a Japanese botanist and expert in plant ecology, specializing in seeds and the study of natural forests. He is active worldwide as a specialist in the restoration of natural vegetation on degraded land.

Origin of Miyawaki method

Miyawaki showed that natural Japanese temperate forest should be mainly composed of deciduous trees – while in practice conifers often dominate. Deciduous trees are still present around tombs and temples, where they have been protected from exploitation for religious and cultural reasons.

The more his research progressed, the more he found that the current forest vegetation of Japan (24.1 million hectares, or 3.5 billion cubic meters of timber on more than 64% of the country) had moved away from potential natural vegetation, due to the introduction of alien species by man. He noted that conifers (still considered in the 1970s as indigenous by many Japanese, including botanists), which became dominant in many forests, are actually an introduced species, and were only naturally present at high altitudes and in extreme environments (such as mountain ridges and steep slopes). They have for centuries been planted there to produce timber faster, and they acclimated. This led Miyawaki to think about forest other than as a source of greenery, recreation or timber. He became interested in the functions of allelopathy and complementarity of species in naturally wooded areas.

The Miyawaki method of reconstitution of "indigenous forests by indigenous trees" produces a rich, dense and efficient protective pioneer forest in 20 to 30 years, where natural succession would need 200 years in temperate Japan and 300 to 500 years in the tropics.