Every city of India needs a cop like Bhaskar Rao, IPS. The former Bengaluru police commissioner, who was transferred to internal security division as the ADGP this July, makes not only law & order but environment his business as well. The IPS officer is largely responsible for the initiative under which Karnataka police has planted a native forest, right in the middle of the city, next to their police station in Richmond Road. But how, did you say? In fact, many dense forests have been made across Karnataka by them.

Bhaskar Rao
Baskar Rao takes over charge as ADGP Internal Security --- Credit Twitter

The urban mini forest boasts of 1200 saplings from as many as 56 species of native plants. So much so that it makes the headquarters of the first battalion of Karnataka state police not look like police station at all. The officers who would earlier have their meetings indoors now have them outside the four walls of police station.

The Miyawaki way to the manmade forest

 The forest has been grown using a Japanese method called Miyawaki (also known as the potted seedling method) involving high density planting. Pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, this method of plantation helps build dense forests with native trees and plants. When dozens of native species are planted in the same area, close to each other, they only grow upwards rather than sideways. The plant grows vertical rather than horizontal since they only receive sunlight from the top.

1.5 year old Miyawaki forest---Image courtesy @shubzsharma
1.5 year old Miyawaki forest---Image courtesy @shubzsharma

The aim is to ensure that plant growth occurs ten times faster and 30 times denser than the usual. Miyawaki forests become maintenance free after three years. Depending on the climate, the type of vegetation, the Miyawaki method of plantation usually does not require years of investment.

A forest in your backyard?

Shubhendu Sharma, founder and director of Afforestt, is the one behind the nature-based solution that turned the Karnataka police station into a mini forest. The former industrial engineer turned to forestry ten years ago and he, along with his team, looks at create forests everywhere regardless of size.

But does that mean there can be a little mini private forest in the backyard? Yes, definitely, according to Shubhendu Sharma who has also been holding forest making workshops. Ideally the selected site should have minimum dimensions of 4 by 3 metres and receive sunlight for at least 8 hours a day. "10 years ago I learned how to make forests from Japanese scientist Dr Miyawaki. I documented the methodology and using the documentation I made a forest in the backyard of my own house. Since then we have made forests all over the world," he says.

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