In order to gain academic inputs, have our doubts cleared, and get our progress in growing the Miyawaki model in Kerala evaluated, we invited two of Prof. Miyawaki’s long-time colleagues to Kerala – Dr Kazue Fujiwara, a senior Professor of Yokohama University, and Prof. Elgene Box of the University of Georgia who co-authored a book with Miyawaki. On seeing our model, they said that a Miyawaki forest does not need more than 10 or 20 varieties of trees. All the trees however should be of the evergreen variety.

This allows us to have a forest in Kerala, with our Bay tree, Tamarind, Wild Jack and Nux Vomica. Our Mango and Jack tree too. But the Miyawaki experts do not encourage including leaf-shedding Mahogany or Teak in our forest because they are foreign species. They multiply quickly through seed dispersal and destroy our indigenous varieties. Their large leaves that fall on the forest floor take time to decompose and will not permit any fresh growth either. But in Kerala, the rains quicken the rotting of dry leaves, and allow plenty of creepers to flourish too.

But the Japanese experts make a distinction between a forest and a jungle. A forest has no creepers whereas a jungle has creepers and thickets. We need not accept this difference but when we set up a forest, it is advisable not to plant creepers in the initial phase. Creepers will climb up the plants and cause obstruction of growth, at least temporarily. But we may ask: what will happen if we plant more than 10 or 20 varieties in a chosen site? Nothing at all! Personally I prefer that method.

In a 10-cent plot I own, I intend to set apart 5 cents for a Miyawaki forest with at least 600 saplings. In course of time, at least 200 will remain standing. In 20 years’ time I will have a thick forest. As the number of varieties increases, it becomes an arboretum. If the instructions regarding Miyawaki model of afforestation are followed, we can make a Miyawaki arboretum, a Miyawaki garden, a Miyawaki vegetable garden or a Miyawaki herbal garden.