Last month, the Hancock Park Garden Club teamed with the LA Parks Foundation to plant an experimental new forest in Griffith Park, near the Bette Davis picnic area, using the Miyawaki method of planting pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki.
The Miyawaki method, originally developed in tropical climates, has been recently been adapted to Mediterranean climates (like we have in Los Angeles). The afforestation method uses only only local, native plant species, densely planted with various layers of vegetation (e.g. understory, shrub, tree, and overstory trees) planted side by side to provide a thick, impenetrable quality over time, keeping out non-native and invasive species. The result is a self-managing forest that is said to require zero maintenance after two years, becoming a habit for local wildlife and human enjoyment.
When the LA Parks Foundation learned about the Miyawaki method, Carolyn Ramsay, Executive Director of the Parks Foundation and a Windsor Square resident, reached out to the Hancock Park Garden Club, of which she’s a member, to see if there was interest in partnering to fund a special experimental forest.
“We were excited to participate,” HPGC President Michaela Burschinger told the Buzz. “Planting trees and adding to our urban forest is our new focus.”
Plant materials for the forest were propagated by the Katherine Pakradouni, a local native plant horticulturist at the LA Parks Foundation site in Griffith Park.
“In six months, this will looks like a dense planting of weeds about waist high, and in a year, the trees will start to dominate the area,” explained Ramsay, adding that this is an experiment using this method for Mediterranean climate plants, based on research done in Sardinia Italy. “This is the first one we know of in California, so it’s very exciting.”
Through its Park Forest Initiative, the LA Parks Foundation has been planting “forests” in city parks throughout L.A. To date, the foundation has planted mini forests in Lemon Grove Park, Mar Vista Recreation Center, and recently in the Berlin Forest near the Griffith Observatory, where 29 Canary Island pines were planted in memory of late City Councilmember Tom LaBonge.
The primary goal of the program is to help offset our city’s carbon footprint, cool surface air temperatures, and educate the public about climate change. But the Hancock Park Garden Club project is unique. If successful, this model of native forest creation could be a game-changer for Los Angeles, and would be a replicable model that could be used at other parks, in schools, at businesses, in home landscape, and even along freeways. The positive impacts for biodiversity, pollution mitigation, reduction of surface air temperatures, urban beautification, and carbon sequestration are endless, according to HPGC’s website.
“The Bette Davis Park Forest has the potential to educate thousands of people about our native plant palate and have long-term impact on the propagation of a sustainable Mediterranean landscape throughout Los Angeles city parks and Southern California,” wrote the HPGC on its website. “Our support of this project could have far-reaching benefits for accelerating urban greening and the achievement of biodiversity goals for the City of Los Angeles.”