Cover Story

Grow forest grow!

January 13 - 19, 2021
Gulf Weekly Grow forest grow!

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Bahrain is set to get its own first-ever ‘pocket forest’ as one of its leading environmentalists starts a grass-roots campaign to highlight the country’s status amongst other island nations.

Budding eco-builder Kai Miethig is gathering volunteers to plant a ‘Miyawaki forest’ in Duraz village, located between Budaiya, Barbar and Bani Jamrah.

“Miyawaki is a technique-pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, that helps build dense, native forests and involves planting dozens of native species in the same area, becoming maintenance-free after the first three years,” the 49-year-old German architect told GulfWeekly.

Kai’s campaign to build the ‘Hidden Treasure Garden’ comes at the heels of him being appointed as Bahrain’s ambassador in the Island Innovation programme and virtual summit.

Island Innovation is a social enterprise that works with rural and island stakeholders, helping them overcome similar development challenges using modern technology and sharing best practices.

“Bahrain is a very unique island and I think it has a lot to offer, in terms of experience, to other countries, while learning from their challenges,” Kai added.

“Of course, there are lessons from the ongoing Covid-19 crisis that can be shared. But beyond that, Bahrain’s experience with Islamic finance and ecology will also be of value globally.

“I’m also hoping to learn more about cleaner shorelines and beaches so we can build a cleaner and more sustainable future for all of us.”

Kai has been appointed as the 2021 Island Innovation ambassador in Bahrain and hopes that his Hidden Treasure Garden highlights Bahrain’s unique eco-system while creating a lasting and living ecological exhibit.

“Near the shoreline in Duraz there is a green path, which is 15-20 metres wide and 300 metres long,” Kai explained. “At present, this area is somewhat neglected and people have been dumping garbage there. Groups have done occasional clean-ups but with this forest, we are hoping to build a lasting garden there.”

Miyawaki forests, colloquially known as pocket forests, have gained prominence across Europe and Asia in the last five years, after Akira, a Japanese botanist, researched, experimented and perfected the concept of creating a forest of native flora which attracts the original fauna.

Essentially a forest that may take up to 100 years can come to life within 10 years or less, while preserving a region’s original ecology.

Kai, who has been living in Bahrain for more than 15 years, hopes to gather Bahrain’s native tree and plant species for the kingdom’s own pocket forest in a month-long project starting at the end of January.

On January 23, he, along with a team of volunteers, will be cleaning the area up, while segregating recyclable materials.

A week later, on January 30, there will be an infotainment session during which details of the forest will be shared with volunteers, followed by a preparation session on February 6.

Every weekend in February, volunteers will be working to trim palm trees, shred leaves for mulching, and exploring the natural area in the garden before planting the garden during the last three weekends in the month.

Kai is hoping to gather a group of volunteers to make the pocket forest a reality and hopes to unveil it on February 27.

For more details and to volunteer, follow and message @kaimiethig on Instagram.

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