The Miyawaki Forest in Danehy Park

The Miyawaki Forest in Danehy Park

There are at least 5 Miyawaki Forests in Massachusetts. Lucky Cambridge. We have a Miyawaki Forest right here in Danehy Park!

Danehy Park is very active this time of year. Every playing field is occupied and multiple sports are represented-baseball, soccer and frisbee and teams practicing track and field can be found on any given day. All of this land once looked very different. Longtime Cambridge residents remember that it was a brickyard, a landfill and a staging area during the constuction of the Red Line. It now sports 50 acres of green space open to the public in 1990. 

The thriving Danehy Miyawaki Forest, on the site of the former landfill, was planted by volunteers in 2021 adjacent to one of the playing fields. There are now 1400 trees and 32 native species of plants. The Forest might be missed this time of year because of it’s monocromatic hue of browns but it is just waking up. After last year’s summer drought, the welcoming rainfall has given this year’s growth a jumpstart. Soon, the dense clump of spindly young saplings will be ready for their 2024 debut.

Every week there will be noticeable changes to the canopy. In keeping with “if you build it, they will come” there are birds, insects and animals finding their way to the Miyawaki Forest in Danehy Park, taking advantage of this lush new habitat. This is really an urban forest.

‌Earth’s biodiversity depends upon forests, and the survival of forests depends upon biodiversity.

“Forests cover almost a third of the global land area and are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species. But forests do so much more than provide provisions such as food, water, medicine and shelter for many species – including ourselves,” says Ethan Bryson, the creator and architect of the Forest. He believes that “the best part about these native forests is the visible increase in wildlife activity from animals, bees and butterflies, the season flowers and abundance of natural food production.”

‌In the 1970s, recognizing the importance of restoring native forests to protect land and habitat, botanist Akira Miyawaki developed, tested, and refined a method of ecological engineering today known as the Miyawaki method to restore native forests from seeds of native trees. There are now Miyawaki Forests across the globe.

‌“Forests provide an astonishing range of ecosystem services. A healthy forest ecosystem stores carbon from the atmosphere and regulates the global carbon cycle; it conserves soil and builds soil stability, stabilizes stream flow and water run-off, recharges aquifers, stimulates rainfall, regulates the climate and prevents desertification. A fully functioning forest filters water and air pollution and reduces the risk of natural disasters such as drought, floods, landslides and severe wildfires.” 

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