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Architect receives praise for monumental 'mini-forest' restoration project in heart of major city: 'The site basically becomes maintenance-free'

"Our project is about many things."

"Our project is about many things."

Photo Credit: iStock

To help combat rising temperatures in Amman, the capital city of Jordan, architect Deema Assaf and her collaborator Nochi Motoharu have begun creating small urban forests using a method developed by a Japanese botanist in the 1970s. Bloomberg wrote about their ongoing project, and why it is so necessary right now.

The Miyawaki Method, developed by Akira Miyawaki, involves two main elements: indigenous trees and very dense planting. Combined, this results in a quick-growing forest that soon irrigates itself and has no need for insecticides or herbicides.

"The site basically becomes maintenance-free," Miyawaki wrote. "Natural management is the best management."

Assaf and Motoharu took this concept and, so far, have turned it into five mini-forests and counting. They have used native species such as Palestine buckthorn, wild pistachio, turpentine tree, wild pear, hawthorn, and eastern strawberry.

"Our project is about many things," said Assaf. "Making the heat more bearable, increasing the green cover, but more importantly, it is about restoring the endangered plant species that have been around for thousands and some for millions of years."

The forests have also lured native wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and even small mammals like fennec foxes.

Getting more trees into urban areas is about more than just beautification. Research indicates that increasing the number of trees in cities can significantly reduce heat-related health problems. And with our planet continuing to overheat as a result of our reliance on dirty energy sources like gas and oil, that is more necessary now than ever.

In addition to helping mitigate the effects of urban heat islands, trees reduce overall air pollution.

Other cities, such as Utrecht in the Netherlands and Milan, Italy, have turned to vertical forests as a method of increasing greenery in urban areas.

"I hope people get in touch with the native ecology and understand it and appreciate it and go back to nature," said Assaf. "And hopefully we do so before it is too late."

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