Book Review: “Mini-Forest Revolution…”, Climate Champ–Akira Miyawaki, The Borneo Project

by | Oct 4, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Book Review: Hannah Lewis’s Mini-Forest Revolution, plus Climate Champion, Akira Miyawaki, and The Borneo Project!



Mention the word “forest” and many people think national park in scope. I myself once did a well-researched calculation and discovered the conventional forest method has about 525 trees per acre, an acre being 43,560 square feet or a 208 x 208 foot square.

Hannah Lewis, in her 185-page book, Mini-Forest Revolution: Using the Miyawaki Method to Rapidly Rewild the World argues that by using the Miyawaki Method, humans can successfully plant between 300-325 trees in a 25 x 25 foot box—about the size of an urban vacant lot. A pocket forest; a tiny forest; a mini forest. Can it be done?

According to Lewis, 230 such mini forests have been planted or will be planted in the Netherlands by 2023. And by whom—urban forest experts? Professional landscapers and arborists? No. By school-aged children. Mini-Forest Revolution is the first-ever book about a movement to restore biodiversity in our cities and towns by transforming empty lots, backyards, and degraded land into mini-forests. 

Author Hannah Lewis’s goal is to be a forest maker, turning asphalt into ecosystems in order to save the planet. She wants everyone to know they can do it too. In her book, Lewis shares the stories of mini-forests that have sprung up across the globe and the people who are planting them―from a young forest along the concrete alley of the Beirut River in Lebanon, to a backyard forest planted by tiny-forest champion Shubhendu Sharma in India.

And why does Mini-Forest Revolution matter to us? Paul Hawken, creator of Project Drawdown, said it best: “Hannah Lewis describes a gift to a despairing world. . . . There may be no single climate solution that has a greater breadth of benefits than mini-forests. . . and can be done by everyone everywhere.”

DEEPER DIVE: YouTube Interview with Hannah Lewis, Mini-Forest Revolution, AP, Miyawaki Forests



Japanese botanist and an expert in plant ecology, Akira Miyawaki, specialized in seeds and natural forests. He was active worldwide as a specialist in natural vegetation restoration of degraded land. He is the originator of the Miyawaki Method of mini, micro, pocket, tiny afforestation using native trees—particularly in urban areas.

Miyawaki advocated to the UN for the restoration of natural forests as early as the 1970s. Natural forests, as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, natural forests are regenerated forests of native tree species where there are no clearly visible indications of human activity and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed. 

Using the concept of potential natural vegetation, 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 on very degraded soils that were deforested and without humus. With the results of his experiments, he restored protective forests in over 1,300 sites in Japan and various tropical countries, in particular in the Pacific region[8] in the form of shelterbelts, woodlands, and woodlots, including urban, port, and industrial areas. Miyawaki demonstrated that rapid restoration of forest cover and soil was possible by using a selection of pioneer and secondary indigenous species that were densely planted and provided with mycorrhiza.[6]

Miyawaki studied local plant ecology and used species that have key and complementary roles in the normal tree communityWhy does Akira Miyawaki matter to us? It’s been proven that in many areas, Contemporary forests, created according to forestry principles, are not the most resilient nor the best suited vegetation for the geobioclimatic conditions, neither are they the most suited to address climate change. Miyawaki’s Method offers a viable alternative to contemporary forestry principles precisely when we need it. When we need to plant 1 trillion trees, or 100 million forests, by 2030.

DEEPER DIVE: Miyawaki, Natural Forests



The Borneo Project brings international attention and support to community-led efforts to defend forests, sustainable livelihoods, and human rights. Protecting human rights and environmental integrity in Borneo is a critical component of the global movement for a just and peaceful world.

Borneo Project was founded in 1991 by Joe Lamb with the immediate goal of providing support to those fighting to protect their rights and the critically important rainforests of Sarawak. Its origins lay in the 1980s mass protests and truck blockades by Borneo’s indigenous communities against logging companies who were illegally encroaching on their lands.

It’s an offshoot of the Berkeley, California-based Earth Island Institute. Earth Island Institute is a nonprofit environmental organization and fiscal sponsor to more than seventy-five projects working in the areas of conservation, energy and climate, women’s environmental leadership, international and Indigenous communities, sustainability and community resilience. Why does the Borneo Project matter to us? The admirable goals:

  •   to support indigenous-led campaigns to secure legal land rights, and to support actions and activists to preserve indigenous land rights.
  •   to support communities acting to preserve and conserve local ecosystems.
  •   to Support cultural conservation efforts for indigenous and forest-dependent communities in Borneo.
  •   to educate the American public about the importance of Borneo, indigenous rights, and the role of forests in climate change and biodiversity conservation.

Some of its previous projects include rural economic development and  installation of a micro-hydro system in Long Lawen—located in Sarawak region of Borneo. The system provided that village with a cost-effective, clean, and reliable electricity maintained by the community. The 10-kilowatt system is self-financing and eliminates the need for 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year.

DEEPER DIVE: TBP, Long Lawen, YouTube