Miyawaki forests ‘capture, retain water’
The first Miyawaki Forest in the Algarve is growing in the municipality of Silves with 18 plant species native to the region that guarantee a balance of biodiversity and less use of water.
Lusa brings this positive story to the fore, at a moment when the country’s drought is affecting almost 90% of mainland territory.
“The Native Forest project, developed by biologist Sónia Soares on a family plot of land in Mesquita, in the parish of Algoz, in the borough of Silves, was born in March with the planting of 260 plants of 18 species native to the Algarve, which in some cases are common to those from other parts of the country”, says the news agency.
“Miyawaki forests are characterised by having a rapid development, being rich in native species and bringing many benefits, both for the environment and for man, such as the capture and absorption of water,” Sónia Soares explains
These forests become self-sufficient after two or three years, having the advantage of allowing “a greater water retention in the soil and, therefore, its passage to underground water tables”.
Sónia Santos stresses this method ensures less water is spent: “It’s not just in terms of money, but the importance that water has for us, and particularly here in the Algarve, which is one of the regions of our country that is suffering most from drought and desertification”.
Wild olive, mastic trees, oleander, carob, cistus and myrtle are some of the species planted in the little 100 square metre forest that the biologist would like to serve as an example to be replicated in other parts of the Algarve, and hopefully the rest of the country.
The Miyawaki method was created by Japanese botanist and ecologist Akira Miyawaki in the 1970s and has inspired the planting of hundreds of small urban forests around the world.
Miyawaki’s studies led to the development of a planting method that combines the concepts of potential natural vegetation (the vegetation that should exist on a site if there were no human intervention) and the way species interact with each other and grow to form a dynamic forest ecosystem.
“The main (economic) income is not a measurable or physical income”, admits Soares, but the forestion method helps contribute towards the improvement of the environment, and is therefore very important for people to understand. Communities, she explains, can be involved in all phases of these projects’ developments: planting, watering, monitoring, etc.
“And that is an important tool, because in economic terms, in value terms, this is the best we can give to these generations and future generations.” she says.
The principles of the Miyawaki method advocate identifying the potential natural vegetation of a site and its structure, i.e. how different species of herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees can be combined.The plantation needs to be kept free of weeds and watered regularly for the first two years. This allows the vegetation to grow more quickly, which is why it has been successfully applied in hundreds of small urban forest projects, says Lusa.
Rewilding Southwest launches ‘game’ to keep Portugal’s ‘forest identity’ alive
With the preservation of indigenous trees/ plants and forests in mind, the west Algarve association RWSW Rewilding Sudoeste, has launched a memory game to illustrate Portugal’s native forests.
Called “A Floresta Autóctone de Portugal” (literally, Portugal’s autochthonous forest), the objective is to present players with the most common and ancient trees of the country’s territory – trees that in many areas have completely disappeared.
The game is bilingual – Portuguese and English – and contains a general illustration of the plants and another one of the leaves/ flowers, as well as an instruction manual with a short description of the 20 species represented.
The illustrations are the work of Portuguese illustrators, supervised by scientific illustrator Pedro Salgado; the design is by Filipe Costa.
The game itself developed from an idea of Raban Von Metzinger, owner of the Private Protected Area APP Vale das Amoreiras, made a reality by the partnership between two Aljezur associations, RWSW and Tertúlia.
“A Floresta Autóctone de Portugal” will soon be on sale in various outlets but can be ordered by emailing [email protected]
Says RWSW, “It is a great gift for all festive occasions, to enjoy and enrich knowledge among family and friends. With the purchase of this game you will be contributing so that the RWSW can continue to raise awareness and invest in the conservation of Forests and Landscapes of the Southwest”.