Next to the playing field of the Manuel Ferreira Patrício School, in the Alentejo city, an area of land with small plants, very close to each other, and with the land around it covered with straw goes unnoticed, there are 300 plants of 29 native species.
This includes strawberry trees, myrtles, holm oaks, Portuguese oaks and rosemary, which were put on the ground, about a month and a half ago, by the educational community in a space of 100 square meters.
Attentive to all the details, student Simão Quenino, tells Lusa agency that the group responsible for the small forest already know "by heart" what to do so that the plants grow healthy.
"We were checking to see if the soil was wet under the plants and putting more straw so [the cover] would be a little thicker so that when we put water in there it wouldn't evaporate as quickly," he explains.
The Miyawaki forest of the Manuel Ferreira Patrício School was planted in partnership with the Forest Impact organisation and the support of the Além Risco project, coordinated by researcher Miguel Bastos Araújo, who made the 300 plants available.
Accompanied by Professor Leonor Pascoal, during a class of mathematics and science, Simão and his classmates spread out in the area and check on the plants.
"Let's see how the plants are", says Vitória Sousa, while, next to her, colleague Isabel Patrício considers it "interesting to see the growth" of the trees, as they are important to "give more shade and oxygen as well as improve the world".
With the students busy following the development of the young plants, teacher Leonor Pascoal believes that leaving the classroom gives the students practical examples.
"Everything we talk about in theory in the classroom, we can see here in practice. From the struggle for light, as we are observing, with plants of various sizes, to the moisture that is created around the plants", she says.
This is already the fourth small Miyawaki forest in the district of Évora that had the collaboration of Forest Impact, but, as the founder of the organisation, Charles Cabell, points out to Lusa, it is one of the first in the country inside a school establishment.
In this forest, there are herbaceous and shrubby plants and trees of various sizes and, before they were planted, the soil was turned over and natural fertiliser was placed in the earth, up to one meter deep.
"Because we planted and followed the Miyawaki methodology, in about 10 to 15 years, we will have a mature forest," he says, noting that if it were planted with the traditional method, it would take "100 years to grow."
Charles Cabell says that in this space, when the plants reach normal size, there will be "a lot of shade and a cooler area," with "proven benefits in combating heat islands and improving soil and water retention."
This Japanese technique, he stresses, "gives priority to native species" and the plantation is done with great density to "create self-sustaining and fast-growing forests that restore biodiversity."
Stressing that climate change is that heart of the operation, the founder suggests that the initiative serves as an example for other schools and municipalities to work together and replicate it throughout the country.
"Students are often distanced from forests and nature" and there are studies that show that "they recognise the logos of the companies, but they do not recognise the plants," but in this school, the students are already "recognising," he concludes.