The Ramanathapuram District is one of the arid districts of Tamil Nadu with very less forest cover.
Ramanathapuram District Administration has taken judicious efforts to improve the Green Cover & Forest cover in the district by Massive tree plantation, Avenue tree plantation, Plantations on the Tank Bunds, Seed Balls etc. In addition to all these activities, the District Administration is also pursuing an idea of creating 1000 mini forests within the district by engaging MGNREGS Workers.
The activity is being taken up across all 429 village panchayats of the district with an estimated cost of Rs 30 crores.
The district administration initially targetted barren wastelands, waste dumping yards, unused lands, etc for development of mini forests. The lands were cleared and plantation drive were taken up.
The Miyawaki method of plantation, which helps to build a dense forest within a short span of time with a mortality rate of less than 1% was followed for development of the mini forests. Each mini forest has 500 saplings planted in 500 sq.mtr area with 14 varieties of native species trees.
Water conservation through surface mulching with coir pith, leaf wastes, etc was taken up in these mini forests. Additionally, 300 community wells exclusively for Mini Forest have also been taken up in the district. Local people have been roped in for protection and maintenance as part of the MGNREGA programme.
Miyawaki technique of afforestation was pioneered by Akira Miyawaki, a Japanese botanist. His aim was to restore the native forests from their seeds, thus maintaining the ecological balance with nature.
The method is gaining popularity in developing dense forests in small areas by taking up dense planation of native species of trees close together in a small pit with vital nutrients. The close plantation enriches the green cover and reinforces the richness of the land. This blocks sunlight from reaching the ground and prevents weeds from growing, thus keeping the soil moist. The close cropping further ensures that the plants receive sunlight only from the top thus enabling them only to grow upwards than sideways. Growing the saplings close also ensures space for more trees to be planted.
Growing a Miyawaki Jungle has multiple benefits, some of the major ones being restoration of the eroded soil layers as well as the forest cover. It is also possible to have increased forest cover at approximately 10 times the rate as compared to normal plantation, besides being environmentally sustainable.