November 28, 2014

A forest in your backyard

Early morning, they wake me up. The tree-hugging warblers. Friends of the forest, melody to my ears. Perched on the branches of the guava tree, their beaks dig into the over ripe mango precariously held under their claws. Do they ever tire of their stories and songs?

                                          (Beautiful street art by Natalii Rak)

The door to the backyard is open. I follow a narrow clearing through grass and vegetation, a winding pathway to the mini-forest. Bending my head, I step under a canopy of jasmine vines. In bloom. White and pure. Their intoxicating fragrance, a welcoming embrace. Tiny drops, dreamy eyed in rainbow colours smile from grass heads. 

Under my feet, there is moisture. Trapped inside layers of leaves. Sodden from rain, from drops of water that settle on the fallen. Where shafts of light fall, earth is carpeted green. On wet barks of trees, moss flourish. 

                                                (Moss from Wikimedia Commons)

Did I hear a pecking sound? Ah! My wood-pecker friend is visiting. Now, who is that? A tiny flutter, a quick dart from the star fruit tree to the jack fruit tree. Sparrows so tiny and quick like little children in a park, having fun in a world of their own. Undisturbed. Unperturbed.  

                                          (Image from 

A flock of parrots fly from the rose apple tree to the gooseberry tree. In a glade, fallen lucky red seeds gleam under the bright morning sun. Butterflies and bees flit. From the blue bells of shankupushpam to the bright red ashoka chethi bushes. In the corner, stands a kanikkonna tree in full bloom. Small yellow-breasted birds with a ring of black around their heads camouflaged amongst the breathtaking yellowness. Flowers bloom. Fruits fall. In leisure. Unhurriedly. To the hands of sand and soil, to the hands of children, eager animals and wriggling worms. Fruit trees. All kinds that I enjoyed when I was a child. It’s like stepping into the past. A past that nourished and provided. Without taking away, without depleting.  

                                                      (Image from Afforestt)
The dream of a self-sustaining mini-forest in your backyard, office premises or school/ college compound can now come true. With Afforestt. 

Shubhendu Sharma: Young industrial engineer turned reforestation expert. Visionary. Ex-Toyota and Mind-tree Consulting. TED and Ashoka Fellow.

Current pursuit and passion: Building Native Forests. Through a for-profit business model.

                           (Image from Afforestt- native saplings in their nursery)

His Venture: Afforestt. Native. Wild. Forever.

Making forests which grow 10 times faster, 30 times denser and are 100 times more bio-diverse. An end-to-end service provider for creating natural, wild, maintenance free, native forests. Technology and expertise to give you the equivalent of a 100-year old natural forest in just ten years.

                                                 (Image from the TED blog)
Inspiration: Miyawaki Technology. Mr. Sharma’s interest in forest-building began when he met Japanese forester Akira Miyawaki in 2008 when the forester came to the site to plant a forest at the Toyota factory. Miyawaki regenerates habitats by planting dozens of native species to create an ecosystem that can develop in 10 years. 

Afforestt Insight: How do we bring back the natural native forests using industrial methods integrated with cloud based software platforms and electronic hardware? “The methodology is the secret, Miyawaki Method amplifies the natural process of growth. This happens due to enriched soil, dense plantation and using only native species,” said Mr. Sharma.

                                              (Image from Afforestt)
Test Project: His own backyard. Within a year, Mr. Sharma created a lush green forest in a 1,000 sq. ft. plot in Uttarakhand, India. Two years later, a formerly ordinary piece of land proudly held 300 trees, 42 species, of which 18 bore fruit, and 17 species of bird in an area that earlier had just two. “Our guava trees produce so much fruit that we harvest at least 5kg a day. All my neighbours are getting guava nectar because we have such an abundance," he said.

                                             (Image from Afforestt)
Do you dream of a mini-forest in your backyard? What would you need? A minimum of 100 sq. m. plot. You get a forest at the lowest possible cost- for you and for nature. Give it eight months after planting the saplings, the forest will become so dense that it blocks sunlight from touching the ground. Soon, the forest gets in to a self-sustaining mode - with every drop of rain conserved and every leaf that falls converted into compost. Doesn’t it make perfect sense to give back the leaves to the earth? Water and weed for the first two to three years, but after that disturb it as little as possible to allow its natural ecosystem to become established.

I don’t remember exactly how I first came across Shubhendu Sharma and Afforestt. But I won’t forget my great sense of joy in reading about the reforestation business. I harnessed the power of Google to fetch me all it knew about the man and his mission. It was easy to track him down as Afforestt has been written about quite widely, right from The Hindu to the BBC. Listen to Mr. Sharma’s TED talk here.

If you are a forest enthusiast and would like to dig deeper, visit this link to the TED blog.

If you share a passion for the native and the natural, please visit and most importantly, please click the share button. Let the good word spread. Let there be more trees, more forests, more leaves for the earth, more birds and more life.

1 comment:

€mmanuel said...

Not qualified to speak like an environmentalist BUT can tell something. Forest wilderness is so much a necessity when life's pace puts one in a haze. Like meditation. Like Yoga. Concrete jungles not helping to cope with life's pressures to cope with speed. Great to know about TED fellow Sharma and his Afforestt. Fantastic idea. Will get one mini-forest myself whenever I can afford it.

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