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KLT’s “Fast Forest:” A Year Later

Overhead shot of a section of KLT's rapid reforestation plot at Dance Nature Sanctuary.

In the summer of 2022, Kawartha Land Trust, Diverse Nature Collective, and a group of dedicated volunteers took to KLT’s Dance Nature Sanctuary near Lakefield, Ontario, to carry out an experimental tree-planting technique known as the “Miyawaki Method.”

A year later, KLT volunteer David Marshall, who helped coordinate the project along with KLT’s Land Stewardship Manager, Hayden Wilson, provided us with an update on the rapid reforestation plot. Read his update below.

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Update from KLT Volunteer David Marshall

Patricia Wilson, David Marshall, Hayden Wilson, at rapid reforestation event at Dance Nature Sanctuary
(L-R) Patricia Wilson, David Marshall and Hayden Wilson after last year’s planting of the rapid reforestation plot.

The experiment at Kawartha Land Trust’s (KLT) Dance Nature Sanctuary near Lakefield is an application of the Miyawaki Method of rapid reforestation.

This reconstitution of “indigenous forests by indigenous trees” produces a rich, dense, and efficient protective pioneer forest in 20 to 30 years, whereas natural succession would take approximately 200 years in temperate climates.

The unique features of the method include a randomly distributed, mixed planting of native species at high densities and diversity. High species diversity and density aim at stirring competition and cooperation between species to mimic what would happen in nature.

The Miyawaki Method, developed in Japan by botanist Akira Miyawaki, has also been successfully applied at multiple sites in India, Brazil, and Italy (Sicily region), and has very recently been used for plots in Hamilton and Kingston in Ontario.

KLT’s 100-square metre plot at Dance Nature Sanctuary near Lakefield was planted in May 2022 after 18 months of weed and pasture grass suppression. About 2,000 plants — 70 different species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers — were planted in a random pattern.

This summer, the plants are thriving, with a survival rate of about 90%. Care of the plot has been minimal: some watering last summer and the removal of some thistle and mullein this past spring.

Many flowering plants are already reseeding and spreading within the plot, and KLT plans to harvest seeds to distribute to other areas.

We expect to see accelerated growth within the next five years. The plant species in the plot were chosen to provide abundant food and cover for birds and other wildlife.

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In the years to come, we look forward to providing you with future updates on this special project as the plants, shrubs, and trees grow. Thank you to the dedicated volunteers and passionate donors who helped make this special project come to life!

You can support the ongoing stewardship of this project and many others across the Kawarthas by making a donation to Kawartha Land Trust today. Thank you for protecting the land you love. 

Main photo: Overhead photo of a section of the rapid reforestation plot. Photos below: (L-R) Wild Bergamot, Currant, and Foxglove and Black-eyed Susans. All photos by Hayden Wilson.

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