Let me show you the spot where we set up our first Miyawaki forest. These are the photographs of how the land lay when we prepared the seedbed. What you see are scenes of the same rocks from the same angle. Next, we will show you how the forest looks now. What you need to pay close attention to is the inner part of the forest. You can clearly see how the interior of a four-year-old Miyawaki forest looks. The reason for saying is that the most number of questions we get revolve around the chances of snakes appearing in Miyawaki forests, and the measures to be taken if snakes appear.

Last week a friend approached me for help in setting up a Miyawaki forest in his plot. The question that his parents asked was the same: What are the chances of snakes appearing in the forest? What they also asked was: Why don’t we see other trees inside the Miyawaki forest as we do in natural ones? I think we ask this question because we see a lot of small trees, green leaves and shrubs on the boundaries of forests. The reason for it is that when sunlight falls on bare ground, Nature allows plenty of seeds to sprout in order to escape the heat.

For instance, look at our rubber plantations. The trees are not allowed to have branches until they grow 15 feet high. So a lot of sunlight will fall on the ground in the mornings and evenings. But that is not a forest. There is only some greenery; that is all. We grow killer creepers as intercrop [for nitrogen fixation] in rubber plantations. As they grow big, they twine around trees and plants and kill them. They grow so profusely because a lot of sunlight falls in the intervening spaces.

Few of us have seen the interior of forests except perhaps in films. Actually, as forests have huge trees, very little sunlight is able to fall through the thick canopy of leaves. Unlike in rubber, coconut or mango plantations, forests have trees of varying heights, and they stand at three or four levels. The tallest trees form one, just below are the emerging sub trees, still smaller trees, shrubs and so on, belonging to various species. Thus it is difficult for sunrays to reach the ground. As long as sunlight does not fall on the ground, Nature is not interested in allowing seeds to sprout. Even in areas where water is scarce or even after we uproot grass, we will see grass coming up quickly. You must have seen this on roadsides. Close by, you will see bigger plants, like Siam weed too. Soon they will be entwined by creepers. Thus you will see a thicket coming into existence. The same thing happens in fields where agriculture is stopped.

But this does not happen in a Miyawaki forest. Here there is intense competition among plants and trees to grow as quickly as possible. After they grow tall and spread their canopies, the chances of undergrowth forming there are very remote. Precisely for that reason, if any creature appears there, they will easily be noticed. Maybe this suspicion [about snakes appearing] comes from seeing the thick mulch we lay in the Miyawaki forest. But a natural forest is not like that. Once a Miyawaki forest has grown fairly mature and there is mulching also, the possibility of other plants growing in between is very less.

Right now, we are showing you videos of many forests. Have a look. This is a one-year-old forest. There are a few plants at the lower level. They are just growing. Similarly this is another forest we set up less than three months back. So, naturally, you can see small plants and saplings growing there. They have not grown tall. Once they do, the plants below will disappear. As this is the initial phase, you will see plants growing here and there. They will be uprooted and left there itself, to act as manure. Look at this one. This is more than four years old. Its growth is over. This is our first Miyawaki forest. You can see that there are no small plants on the ground. This is what happens when a forest has grown to maturity. It took only four years in this case. Now, it requires no maintenance. It will thrive on its own. If we construct a protective wall around it, we will be able to detect any creature that comes into or goes out of it. The chances of snakes remaining inside are very remote because there are no places for it to hide in.

Keep the surrounding area litter-free so that such creatures can be noticed quickly. So you don’t have to nurse fears just because you have a Miyawaki forest close to your house. Cordon off your forest. There are forests all around this house, and they have been given proper boundaries. There are pathways into the forests that are kept clean. So there is no need for fear. Even after the forests grows, the undergrowth will be very sparse. A neglected plot in which wilderness has taken over and the undergrowth of a forest are two, entirely different things. A place of wild overgrowth will have climbers and shrubs that may reach up to the height of our necks. We may not even be able to see what is inside. But these forests are not like that. I hope you have seen the difference very clearly from these visuals.