The Indian Man Growing ‘Mini Forests’ Around The World - Homegrown

The Indian Man Growing ‘Mini Forests’ Around The World

Depleting forest cover is a worldwide problem. Even in India, only 21.53% of its area is under forest cover while it should be around 33%. To fill the gap and make India green, a unique India startup growing thriving and self-sustaining forests. The man behind it? Shubhendu Sharma is on a green mission. An industrial Engineer, Shubhendu was working at Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s manufacturing plant when he volunteered to be a part of Japanese botanist and plant ecology expert Akira Miyawaki’s afforestation drive to create indigenous forests at the Toyota manufacturing plants. Inspired by this method and experience (in June 2009 the entire team planted 30,000 seeds), Shubhendu decided to quit his job and bring this initiative to India.

With slight modifications, Sharma’s experiment evolved into a lush green forest in his own backyard in Uttarakhand. The success of his newfound experiment led to the inception of Afforestt–an initiative creating a natural, wild and self-sustaining, native forests since 2011. While the sudden career shift wasn’t easy, Afforest has served over 43 clients and planted over 54,000 trees. Based on the theory that if a piece of land is derived from any form of human interaction and intervention for about 600-1,000 years, a forest will grow on it naturally, Sharma employees the Miyawaki method to design maintenance-free forests by planting 50 to 100 varieties of native species at a density of 3-5/sq meter for rapid growth. What makes the Afforestt initiative different from the traditional Miyawaki method is its low-cost model (around Rs 150 per square foot). These urban forests are far less expensive than opting for landscaping options. Using an algorithm similar to that used by various car companies, this method ensures that no two large trees are competing for the same space and resources for a much faster success rate.

Apart from pollution control and carbon capture, these urban forest reintroduced habitat spaces for various endangered species and reduce the neighborhood temperatures up to five degrees and are a great way to conserve rainwater. Afforestt also aims to create a world where plucking a fruit from a tree in your backyard is much easier than buying it from the market.

While the Afforestt initiative has created forests worldwide (US, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Pakistan), the team is exploring challenging geographies with an upcoming project in the arid region of Gibraltar.

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