Akira Miyawaki's first field trials have shown that planted forests, which in composition and structure were closer to what would exist in the absence of human activity, grew quickly and generally showed very good ecological resilience.
Miyawaki gradually formed a large seed bank (more than 10 million seeds have been identified and classified, according to their geographical origin and soil). They are mostly remnants of natural forests preserved for generations around temples and cemeteries because of the traditional belief in Chinju-no-mori (literally "forests where the gods dwell"; it was considered unlucky to interfere with these forests). These places have allowed the preservation of thousands of small reserves of native species and tree genes descending from prehistoric forests.
Using the principles of this tradition, he proposed a plan to restore native forests for environmental protection, as a water retention resource and to protect against natural hazards. His proposals were not initially met with positive feedback, but in the early 1970s, Nippon Steel Corporation, who wanted to plant forests on embankments around its steelworks at Oita, became interested in his work after the death of previous conventional plantations and entrusted him with a first operation.
Miyawaki identified the potential natural vegetation of the area, studying the forests surrounding two nearby tombs (Usa and Yusuhara). He chose various species of trees that he tested on the substrate to be afforested. He then created a nursery where plants were mixed and then planted on the site, where today lives a forest composed exclusively of native species. The steel corporation was so pleased with the results that in the 18 years since, it has planted forests with this method at sites of its steel mills in Nagoya, Sakai, Kamaishi, Futtu, Hikari, Muroran, and Yawata.
Since then, Miyawaki and his colleagues and partners have successfully covered more than 1300 sites with multilayered protective forests, composed entirely of native species. The method has been tested successfully in almost all of Japan, sometimes on difficult substrates, including plantations to mitigate the effects of tsunamis on the coast, or typhoons in the port of Yokohama, wastelands, artificial islands, fixing crumbling slopes after road construction, and creating a forest on a cliff freshly cut with dynamite to construct the Monju Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture.
"Rather than scrap them, I want to bring memory objects back to life as earth resources - for the sake of repose of souls, and for the future."