How to grow a forest in your backyard | Shubhendu Sharma | Summary and Q&A

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August 22, 2016
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TED
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How to grow a forest in your backyard | Shubhendu Sharma

TL;DR

Discover the incredible process of creating man-made forests that attract biodiversity and can be integrated into urban environments.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is a man-made forest and where can it be found?

A man-made forest is a dense area filled with trees that can spread over acres or fit in a small space like a house garden. It can be found in various locations such as factories, farms, schools, homes, resorts, apartment buildings, public parks, and even zoos.

Q: How old is the man-made forest in the speaker's backyard?

The man-made forest in the speaker's backyard is just two years old.

Q: What is the speaker's profession and how many forests have they created?

The speaker is an entrepreneur who professionally facilitates the creation of man-made forests. They have created a total of 75 forests in 25 cities across the world.

Q: How do man-made forests differ from industrial production?

Man-made forests work in the opposite way of industrial production. While industrial production separates elements from nature and converts them into irreversible products, man-made forests bring elements together in a natural system where natural products become natural resources again.

Q: How do they improve the soil in order to create a man-made forest?

In order to improve the soil for a man-made forest, the creators touch, feel, and even taste the soil to identify its lacking properties. If the soil is too compact, they mix in local biomass to make it more porous. If the soil lacks water-holding capacity, they add water-absorbent materials like peat or bagasse.

Summary

This video highlights the concept of creating man-made forests, which can exist in various sizes and locations, including urban areas. The speaker, an entrepreneur, explains how he learned to work with nature instead of against it and has successfully made 75 forests in different cities worldwide. He discusses the process of making a forest, from improving the soil to identifying native tree species and creating layers within the forest. By nurturing the ecosystem and letting nature take over, these forests can thrive and regenerate indefinitely.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the concept of a man-made forest?

A man-made forest is an intentionally created forest that can be established in different spaces, ranging from small gardens to large areas. It is a way to bring nature back into urban environments and create habitats for biodiversity.

Q: How old is the forest in the speaker's backyard?

The forest in the speaker's backyard is just two years old. Despite its young age, it already attracts a significant amount of biodiversity, providing a nature-filled environment reminiscent of a Disney princess's dream.

Q: How does the speaker and his team create these forests professionally?

The speaker, along with his team, facilitates the creation of man-made forests in various places such as factories, schools, farms, resorts, and even zoos. They identify the necessary elements for a forest in each location and bring them together, allowing nature to take over and nurture the ecosystem.

Q: How does nature's production process differ from industrial production?

Nature's production process is the opposite of industrial production. While industrial production separates elements from nature, converting them into irreversible states, nature brings elements together atom by atom, allowing natural products to become natural resources again.

Q: What role does soil play in creating a forest?

Soil is a crucial component in creating a forest. By determining the properties of the soil, such as its structure and water-holding capacity, the speaker and his team are able to make necessary improvements to ensure the soil is conducive to plant growth.

Q: How do they improve compact soil so that water can seep in?

If the soil is compact and prevents water from seeping in, the team mixes local biomass, such as organic matter, into the soil. By doing so, the soil becomes more porous, allowing water to infiltrate.

Q: What is added to the soil to help it retain moisture?

If the soil doesn't have the capacity to hold water, the team adds water-absorbent materials like peat or bagasse to help the soil retain moisture. This ensures that plants have access to sufficient water for their growth.

Q: How do they provide nutrition to the soil?

Instead of directly adding nutrition to the soil, which would go against nature, the team introduces microorganisms to the soil. These microorganisms feed on the biomass mixed in the soil and naturally produce nutrients as they multiply. They allow the soil to come alive, resulting in a healthier ecosystem for the forest.

Q: How do they determine which tree species belong in a specific location?

To determine the tree species that belong in a specific location, the team conducts surveys. They look for existing natural forests, sacred groves, and old temples with surrounding forests. In cases where there is minimal information, they even research historical records, paintings, poems, and literature to identify native tree species.

Q: How do they ensure proper tree placement and diversity within the forest?

The team divides the identified tree species into four different layers: shrub layer, sub-tree layer, tree layer, and canopy layer. They establish ratios for each layer and determine the percentage of each tree species to include in the mix. Additionally, they ensure that trees of the same layer are not planted next to each other to avoid competition for vertical space.

Q: What is done to encourage the growth of the forest and maintain soil moisture?

To encourage forest growth and maintain soil moisture, the team plants the saplings close to each other and covers the surface with a thick layer of mulch. The mulch helps retain soil moisture during hot weather and prevents frost formation on the soil during colder periods, allowing it to continue breathing.

Q: How does the forest grow and establish itself?

While it may not be visible above ground, the forest growth primarily occurs below the surface. The roots of the trees rapidly penetrate the soft soil, reaching a depth of one meter in the initial three months. These roots form a mesh that tightly holds the soil, creating a network of microbes and fungi. This network ensures nutrient distribution and helps the forest grow.

Q: How does the forest become self-regenerating?

Once the roots are established, the forest begins growing above the surface. As the forest grows denser and blocks sunlight from reaching the ground, weeds struggle to grow. Rainwater is condensed and retained, eliminating evaporation. The fallen leaves continuously decay, forming humus that nourishes the forest as it grows exponentially. Once established, these forests regenerate themselves with little to no management.

Q: What is the benefit of creating man-made forests in a collective manner?

By planting the same tree species together and allowing them to grow as a collective, these man-made forests can grow much faster than if the same trees were planted independently. The collective nature of the forest enables rapid growth, mimicking a natural forest ecosystem.

Takeaways

Man-made forests offer the opportunity to integrate nature into urban environments and provide habitats for biodiversity. By working with nature and allowing natural processes to take over, these forests can be created in various locations. The key to success lies in improving the soil, identifying native tree species, and fostering a diverse ecosystem within the forest. Once established, these forests become self-regenerating, requiring minimal management. By mimicking the collective growth of natural forests, these man-made forests can achieve remarkable growth in a relatively short time.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Man-made forests can be created in small or large spaces and can attract biodiversity.

  • These forests are made by bringing together natural elements and allowing nature to take over.

  • The process involves improving the soil, selecting native tree species, and allowing the forest to grow and regenerate naturally.

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