Shubhendu Sharma’s Afforestt can create a forest right in your backyard, that too within a few years
Normally a forest planted by humans typically takes at least 100 years to mature. But, we can make the process ten times faster. This is what Shubhendu Sharma is doing by creating mini-forest ecosystems using an accelerated method, which is based on the practices of Japanese forester Akira Miyawaki.
Shubhendu Sharma left his high paying job as an engineer at Toyota, to plant trees for the rest of his life. It all begun when he volunteered to assist Akira Miyawaki, a naturalist to cultivate a forest at the Toyota plant where he worked. Shubhendu was so fascinated by the presentation given by Akira Miyawaki on the methods, that he decided to implement the same for himself.
Miyawaki is quite famous. He has planted around 40 million trees all over the world. In 2006, he won the Blue Planet Prize, which is equivalent to the Nobel Prize in the environmental field. His method is based on what’s called ‘potential natural vegetation’ — a theory that if a piece of land is free from human intervention, a forest will naturally self-seed and take over that land within a period of around 600 to 1,000 years, with the species that would be native and robust, and that would require no maintenance. Miyawaki’s methodology amplifies that growth process to establish a mature, native forest in ten years — ten times the normal rate of forests planted by humans, said Shubhendu.
Shubhendu then planted a forest of 300 trees of 42 species in a 93-square-meter plot in his back garden. When it was fully successful, he decided to quit his job to start Afforestt. Started in 2011, Afforestt is a for-profit company devoted to planting native forests for all kinds of clients, from farmers to corporations to city governments.
Shifting the career wasn’t easy. Especially, convincing the family was very tough. They could not understand why I was bent on quitting a high-paying engineering job at Toyota to plant trees all my life. My friends were a great support to me which gave me a boost. Till date, they take interest and engage in the activities of Afforestt, Sharma says.
Afforestt converts any land into a self-sustainable forest in a couple of years. So far, Shubhendu Sharma has successfully created more than 90 forests in different cities across the world.