Urban forestry is critical to the resilience of cities as they absorb carbon and pollution, aid flood resistance, and enhance human interaction with nature. For these reasons, Toronto's urban forest has an estimated worth around $7 billion. Growing forests in dense cities, however, is challenging because there is often very little space to go around, particularly connected space. Afforesst, start up in India growing mini super-forests, might just have the solution.

Shubhendu Sharma, a young industrial engineer, was working for Toyota when Japanese artist Akira Miyawaki visited his team and demonstrated this idea for dense urban forests. Sharma was inspired and decided to grow his own mini forest in his backyard, eventually leaving Toyota to pursue the development of super-forests full-time.

The system uses an algorithm similar to those relied upon by car companies that ensures once forests mature, no two large trees are competing the for the same space and resources. Over the last three years of testing his methodology in India, Sharma and has a 92 percent success rate and has grown tiny forests 10 times faster and 30 times denser compared to a conventional plantation. The result is a small space also estimated at 100 times more diverse. Next Afforestt will test their model in Oman and Mexico followed by Kenya and South Africa.

Aside from pollution control and carbon capture, these mini super-forests provide a number of other benefits for city dwellers. They reintroduce habitat spaces for threatened and endangered species, block wind, and reduce urban heat island effect significantly by lowering neighborhood temperatures up to five degrees. The process is expensive because it is very intense and controlled, but for dense cities like Los Angeles and Delhi that have poor air quality, Afforestt has the quick and [literally] dirty solution.

Read more about the project from Fast Company.