How to grow a forest in your backyard | Shubhendu Sharma

This is a man-made forest. It can spread over acres
and acres of area, or it could fit in a small space — as small as your house garden. Age of this forest
is just two years old. I have a forest in the backyard
of my own house. It attracts a lot of biodiversity. (Bird call) I wake up to this every morning, like a Disney princess. (Laughter) I am an entrepreneur who facilitates the making
of these forests professionally. We have helped factories, farms, schools, homes, resorts, apartment buildings, public parks and even a zoo to have one of such forests. A forest is not an isolated piece of land
where animals live together. A forest can be an integral part
of our urban existence. A forest, for me, is a place so dense with trees
that you just can’t walk into it. It doesn’t matter
how big or small they are. Most of the world
we live in today was forest. This was before human intervention. Then we built up our cities
on those forests, like São Paulo, forgetting that we belong
to nature as well, as much as 8.4 million
other species on the planet. Our habitat stopped being
our natural habitat. But not anymore for some of us. A few others and I today make
these forests professionally — anywhere and everywhere. I’m an industrial engineer. I specialize in making cars. In my previous job at Toyota, I learned how to convert
natural resources into products. To give you an example, we would drip the sap
out of a rubber tree, convert it into raw rubber and make a tire out of it — the product. But these products can never
become a natural resource again. We separate the elements from nature and convert them
into an irreversible state. That’s industrial production. Nature, on the other hand,
works in a totally opposite way. The natural system produces
by bringing elements together, atom by atom. All the natural products
become a natural resource again. This is something which I learned when I made a forest
in the backyard of my own house. And this was the first time
I worked with nature, rather than against it. Since then, we have made 75 such forests
in 25 cities across the world. Every time we work at a new place, we find that every single element
needed to make a forest is available right around us. All we have to do is to bring
these elements together and let nature take over. To make a forest we start with soil. We touch, feel and even taste it to identify what properties it lacks. If the soil is made up of small particles
it becomes compact — so compact, that water cannot seep in. We mix some local biomass
available around, which can help soil become more porous. Water can now seep in. If the soil doesn’t have
the capacity to hold water, we will mix some more biomass — some water-absorbent material
like peat or bagasse, so soil can hold this water
and it stays moist. To grow, plants need water,
sunlight and nutrition. What if the soil doesn’t have
any nutrition in it? We don’t just add nutrition
directly to the soil. That would be the industrial way. It goes against nature. We instead add microorganisms to the soil. They produce the nutrients
in the soil naturally. They feed on the biomass
we have mixed in the soil, so all they have to do
is eat and multiply. And as their number grows, the soil starts breathing again. It becomes alive. We survey the native
tree species of the place. How do we decide what’s native or not? Well, whatever existed
before human intervention is native. That’s the simple rule. We survey a national park to find the last remains
of a natural forest. We survey the sacred groves, or sacred forests around old temples. And if we don’t find anything at all, we go to museums to see the seeds or wood of trees
existing there a long time ago. We research old paintings,
poems and literature from the place, to identify the tree species
belonging there. Once we know our trees, we divide them in four different layers: shrub layer, sub-tree layer,
tree layer and canopy layer. We fix the ratios of each layer, and then we decide the percentage
of each tree species in the mix. If we are making a fruit forest, we increase the percentage
of fruit-bearing trees. It could be a flowering forest, a forest that attracts
a lot of birds or bees, or it could simply be a native,
wild evergreen forest. We collect the seeds
and germinate saplings out of them. We make sure that trees
belonging to the same layer are not planted next to each other, or they will fight for the same
vertical space when they grow tall. We plant the saplings close to each other. On the surface, we spread
a thick layer of mulch, so when it’s hot outside
the soil stays moist. When it’s cold, frost formation happens only on the mulch, so soil can still breathe
while it’s freezing outside. The soil is very soft — so soft, that roots
can penetrate into it easily, rapidly. Initially, the forest doesn’t
seem like it’s growing, but it’s growing under the surface. In the first three months, roots reach a depth of one meter. These roots form a mesh, tightly holding the soil. Microbes and fungi live
throughout this network of roots. So if some nutrition is not available
in the vicinity of a tree, these microbes are going to get
the nutrition to the tree. Whenever it rains, magically, mushrooms appear overnight. And this means the soil below
has a healthy fungal network. Once these roots are established, forest starts growing on the surface. As the forest grows we keep watering it — for the next two to three years,
we water the forest. We want to keep all the water
and soil nutrition only for our trees, so we remove the weeds
growing on the ground. As this forest grows,
it blocks the sunlight. Eventually, the forest becomes so dense that sunlight can’t reach
the ground anymore. Weeds cannot grow now,
because they need sunlight as well. At this stage, every single drop of water
that falls into the forest doesn’t evaporate back
into the atmosphere. This dense forest condenses the moist air and retains its moisture. We gradually reduce and eventually
stop watering the forest. And even without watering, the forest floor stays moist
and sometimes even dark. Now, when a single leaf
falls on this forest floor, it immediately starts decaying. This decayed biomass forms humus, which is food for the forest. As the forest grows, more leaves fall on the surface — it means more humus is produced, it means more food so the forest
can grow still bigger. And this forest keeps
growing exponentially. Once established, these forests are going to regenerate
themselves again and again — probably forever. In a natural forest like this, no management is the best management. It’s a tiny jungle party. (Laughter) This forest grows as a collective. If the same trees — same species — would have been planted independently, it wouldn’t grow so fast. And this is how we create
a 100-year-old forest in just 10 years. Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “How to grow a forest in your backyard | Shubhendu Sharma

  1. This jackass is not even an agriculturist . Go back to making cars . Leave nature to agriculturists / Horticulturists and Forestry people who know and understand the complexities involved in the subject

  2. magic is created when we start caring…
    source excellent sustainable products like pencils made from recycled newspapers and many more and show that you care for mother earth.

    what more, all these products are made by people from low income communities in India. You get a chance to make a difference to their lives while giving back to mother nature!

    Check this video for more details:

    #ecofriendly #sustainable #zerowaste #earth #noplastic #life #care #nature #recycle #reduce #reuse #replenish #disposable #leaf #plates #paper #pencils #india #makeinindia #madeinindia #responsiblysourced #dharmee #germany #usa #australia

  3. This guy is absolutely one of the best speaker. Greatly knowledgeable and experienced. Everything he said make perfect sense to me. Awesome!

  4. I watch the video and I don't have back ground

  5. We need more Trees! But not like monocultures, REAL Forests!
    We need more Trees in cities and less cars in cities!

  6. …. and still no governments take this seriously. Great part of the solution.

  7. Hey guys this works in any part of the country that has a natural forest but u know I donโ€™t live there I live in a very dry desert area in California I would have to water a lot we get only 3 inches of water a year sometimes 7 inches at top

  8. Plant tree's in your yard and don't cut the grass regularly… Poof you have a yard Forrest.

  9. Iโ€™ve started this in our backyard but after seeing this I realize thereโ€™s much more I can do. One yard at a time. ๐Ÿ’œ

  10. That's awesome, keep up the good work God bless amen.๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ณ

  11. This is perhaps my favorite TED talk ever, and I want to do his job here where I live!

  12. No one:

    YouTube recommendations: HoW tO gRoW A fOrEsT iN yOuR bAcKyArD

  13. Coba kalo pemerintah indonesia bisa hire anak muda hebat spt ini…indonesia penuh dgn hutan lagi in the next few years

  14. if I get my own place and it has a big enough space…
    this is the video I'll be going to :]

  15. ssssssssss, sssssssss,ssssssssssssssssss, sssssssssssssss, my poor sssssssssssspeakers.

  16. Proved in |Tamilnadu

  17. I believe in living among evergreen fresh air trees. The air is delicious. I want a forest in my backyard, how too? Come and do my garden. People also need clean water, sunlight and rich nutrients. People need a wake up call and conscious. Only problem we have is water shortage.

  18. Beautiful. May the trees be with you! ๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒ๐ŸŒ

  19. Salute you sir. At least someone like you out there to protect our oxygen tanks

  20. Ce mec a tout pour me plaire, C un bon … Ce mec a retenu mon attention lorsqu'il a dit qu'une forรชt doit รชtre impรฉnรฉtrable par l'homme et que la meilleure gestion d'une forรชt est la non-gestion … Lร  G senti un truc proche de mes valeurs vรฉgรฉtales, proche des lois de la nature … Shubhendu Sharma plante 3 arbres par m2 soit 30.000 arbres par hectare …. J'aime beaucoup ce que chante et fait ce jeune homme … Bravo frรฉro ^_^

  21. Such things should be introduced and maintained at the state level.

  22. Maybe all the countries in the world will join, and buy the "planet's lung", Amazon rainforest, and keep it as a "world protected park" (just dreaming ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Try that in a council house and wait for the neighbour complaints ๐Ÿ˜‚

  24. No matter what nutrients has to be added. Even the amazon needs it too. They get their nutrients from the Sahara

  25. They just adopted Japanese concept and cleverly made nexus with corporates and big business, rather than a social movement

  26. Yeah, but how can a regular person do this affordably? How do I find a mentor in my area of metro Atlanta, GA?

  27. The way he talked about forests, he didn't even need comic relief or relatable content to keep our attention. It was technical yet… caring? Like he's cares for his child, & also knows they're complete without his intervention.

  28. my neighbor is arguing me because the roots of my trees slowly destroy my neighbors backyard

  29. I'm feeling Soo proud because he's from India. But the message is to the whole world. We gotta work together mates.

  30. I love this what a most enlightening intelligence in tune with nature this is more important than ever when our trees are being culled and poisoned by Chemtrails and emf s with 5 g roll out everyone get planting your own forests I also love the way he researched native species. Wonderful talk thank you

  31. If builders and developers didn't cut them down to begin with and respect the land, we wouldn't need to cover their destroying ways.

  32. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜˜

  33. Wow…..I hope I could be part of these kind of things ..but u guys r doing so great….ND keep doing it…and take local peoples too to help you…we will help…our Earth is dying… everything is changing ….but I don't think our government ND people r really serious about it… We should plant trees….but I liked the idea u said..ND ur work..hatsoff to u guys…

  34. I have fallen in love with each word. I see the love for nature… Many cannot give such classic definition for idustrial product. Nature is our mother and obviously she is 100% responsible person but we as a sick human forgot to pay our gratitude for such a sweet immense love. Pathetic

  35. Very informative.. How i wish every country would make forest too, and heal the sick earth…

  36. If this man was in charge of the amazon rain forest crisis, it would've been solved.

  37. Wow thats a great explanation and experiment. Its time whole world to rethink of it. Best example, Singapore building forests in concrete cities but majority countries with natural forests cannot protect them with safe hands. Human please remember this, that we have to raise the green asap around us. Or else you wont believe consequences in return. The balance has to be managed prefectly. We cannot go against the nature, but we can grow together. We are not too late, start it today because being a billionaire not worth with money and luxury buildings but only with green nature, habitat and sounds of wind ๐Ÿ‘

  38. He is an Indian wow I m proud of u Bhai ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹I am also Indian n agriculture student proud of u ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

  39. I have a similar kind of forest in my garden. It has its own trees, small trees, birds, a full ecosystem. It's amazing

  40. I know that whatever home I first purchase is going to have the lawns and hedges ripped out to replace it with permaculture gardens and dense forest instead. I was adamant about making my apartment balcony a more livable space despite being so high up, and just by planting gardens along the railing that included vegetables, flowering plants and a couple of smaller trees, I was able to attract bees and other pollinating bugs, spiders, and hummingbirds. And the added bonus was that the greenery purified the air blowing into my apartment, and provided sun shade, meaning I didn't have to keep my AC on in the afternoon.
    We spend our lives thinking we live apart from nature, that the land we sculpt is somehow separate, and that nature is something we have to travel to, something distant. We are very much a part of nature, and I'm realizing now that by reintroducing it to my living space, it's improved my quality of life. No manicured lawns or pristine, tidy gardens for me. I want WILD. I want native. I want alive. I'm going to take his pointers and include them in my next home.

  41. What I did to create more forest in my backyard is just stop mowing certain parts of it

  42. Cut trees
    Build concrete
    Wait for years
    Realize that nature can't be challenged
    Come again and plant trees
    And show off that you could create forest…


  43. Do you really have to watch TED to grow something in your garden including forest ????? Just put the fuc*ing seeds !!!! or do nothing there 5 years !!! the forest will grow itself .People what's wrong with ya

  44. This is a fantastic way to implement E.O. Wilson's Half Earth idea – dedicate half of all Earth to natural habitat to start saving the planet

  45. This is so important… When I was a kid there were birds and insects everywhere, not any more. I used to see millions of starlings as a child, now we have none whatsoever. All it took was 35 years and they're all gone. And it's not just the starlings, it's all the birds… Bees are in dangerously sharp decline too. If we are not careful we are going to lose what we have forever. This needs to be made into a blueprint that others can follow worldwide to recreate your work. If you're the younger generation you don't realise what we have already lost, talk to the older people and see for yourself. If I knew how, I'd devote half my land to this project… I'd like to find more information to do this. Superb speech Sir. Kudos. ๐Ÿบ๐Ÿบ๐Ÿบ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

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