Usually transplanted trees do not survive easily. However Mumbai's first Japanese Miyawaki forest inside a railway station premises at Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) has seen a 100 percent survival rate. The Central Railway officials claim that more than a month after they were planted, these plants have also grown beautifully and flowered as well. Kurla LTT is among the nine railway stations that the CR authorities have identified for turning them into a green zone.
The CR authorities had planted 1,000 plus saplings of 52 varieties of plants at Kurla LTT to celebrate World Environment Day. These saplings included Karvand, Raatrani, Hibiscus, Kari Patta, Apta, Wood Apple, Indian gooseberry, Peru, Custard Apple, Mango, Peepal, Banyan tree among other types of plants and trees.
The Miyawaki technique can support 45 saplings within a 150 sq. feet area and at Kurla LTT this space has been utilised for plantation. The Miyawaki forestation method is a unique way to create an urban forest and is pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. “With this method of plantation, an urban forest can grow within a short span of 20-30 years while a conventional forest takes around 200-300 years to grow naturally,” said Shivaji Sutar, Chief PRO, Central Railway.
According to experts, various native species of plants are planted close to each other so that the greens receive sunlight only from the top and grow upwards than sideways. As a result, the plantation becomes approximately 30 times denser, grows 10 times faster and becomes maintenance-free after a span of 3 years.
“Ideally the selected site should have minimum dimensions of 4 by 3 meters and receive sunlight for at least 8 hours a day. This is possible here at Kurla LTT and its outcome is seen,” said another CR official.
The first layer is of shrubs that grow upto 6 feet, the second layer is of trees that grow upto 25 feet, the third of trees that grow upto 40 feet and the final layer is the canopy which grows above 40 feet. Explaining the process of maintaining this Miyawaki forest, an officer said that on average they have planted 3-5 saplings in one sq. meter. Once the saplings are planted, a thick layer of mulch was evenly laid on the soil to insulate it and prevent water from evaporating. Then they tied the plants to support sticks with a jute string so that they do not stoop or bend. They water the forest once a day and aim to keep the forest free from weeds for the first 2 years.
The idea was first mooted by former BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, who originally targeted planting 4 lakh trees on 65 plots across the city by spending Rs 32 crore. The LTT is also a part of the nine stations that the CR plans to develop as a green power zone over the next three years. It has identified Dadar, Govandi, Cotton Green, Byculla, traffic building at CSMT, Lonavala, Umbermali and Thansit stations for the project.