Condesned Forests for an Urban Canopy

Shubhendu Sharma has found a way to get a small area of land to become a thick forest nearly impossible to walk trough. The idea is to take useless spaces in cities (like car parking) and turn them into miniature forests. These mini-forests can cool the local temperature, clean the air, and increase local happiness.

What’s more, the process uses native plants so it is a self-sustaining setup of plants. Sharma has created a company, Afforestt, to sell the plant-growing service to cities.

“It’s the natural process of growth, but amplified,” says Afforestt founder Shubhendu Sharma. Through an intensive process of building nutrients three feet deep in the soil and carefully plotting out a mix of trees, Sharma’s team can fill up an entire plot of land with a forest so thick it’s impossible to walk inside.

The technique was originally developed by Japanese scientist Akira Miyawaki, who demonstrated it at Toyota while Sharma worked there. The engineer was so inspired that he ended up building a similar forest in his own backyard, and eventually left Toyota to start building small super-forests everywhere.

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Proposed Wooden Skyscraper

wood building
Yesterday we looked at making a key building material, cement, more green and today we’re looking at a skyscraper to be built out of wood. Wood is a much kinder material to the environment thanks to the fact that wood is renewable because it comes from trees.

The idea may sound odd given that wooden skyscrapers may not sound strong or even fire-resistant but all of this is thought out for this building which may get built in Vancouver.

‘Tallwood’ would be made of large panels of ‘laminated strand lumber’—a composite made by gluing together strands of wood.

Trees are a renewable resource, and they help to reduce air pollution. Sourcing from sustainably-managed forests could be deemed more environmentally sensitive, according to CNN.

Unlike concrete—which produces about 6-9kg of carbon dioxide for every 10kg of concrete—wood sucks carbon out of the atmosphere.

And contrary to popular belief, wood actually is quite fire-resistant.

“It may sound counter-intuitive, but performing well in a fire is something inherent in large pieces of wood, that’s why in forest fires the trees that survive are the largest ones,” Green said.

Read (and see) a bit more at Taxi.

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Help Save the Redwoods with Modern Tech

Organizations that care about protecting the environment are always looking for ways to get more people helping them out and in some cases consumer technologies are the solution. Save the Redwoods is an organization in California that is asking people to use their iPhones to identify where every redwood tree is in the state. The information will then be mapped out on Google Earth – a great way of showing people the current state of the redwood forests.

Find a redwood tree in a park, in your own backyard, or in a botanical garden anywhere in the world. Then use the free Redwood Watch iPhone application powered by iNaturalist or your own camera to take a photo of the tree and submit it online.

“Citizen-science efforts like iNaturalist are rapidly emerging as rich sources of biogeographic information for alerting scientists where plants and animals are disappearing and where they persist,” said Scott R. Loarie, co-director of iNaturalist.org and a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science. “These technologies are a real win-win for conservation because, in addition to generating urgently needed data, they get people outdoors and help them become more aware of the natural world.”

In collaboration with Google Earth Outreach, Redwood Watch also will include a tour and new 3D online model of the ancient forest to help people better understand, appreciate and connect with the wonder of the redwoods. A 2½-minute video, Finding the Redwood Forests of Tomorrow, tells the story of an ancient forest. The video was narrated by Peter Coyote, actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall. Save the Redwoods League partnered with Google Earth Outreach to produce the new 3D Trees model ofJedediah Smith Redwoods State Park on Google Earth. Jedediah Smith Redwoods was selected for this project because it is one of the most pristine old-growth coast redwood forests in California. The 3D model allows Google Earth users to virtually walk and fly through an ancient redwood forest anytime anywhere.

Find out more at the Save the Redwoods website

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A Tree Planting Genius

SM Raju has found a way to plant nearly one billion saplings in only one day: by hiring people who are below the poverty line in India to plant and then to protect trees. The plan is to pay people who would otherwise be unemployed to plant and grow trees as a family. Each year they would get some money to supplement other income sources.

The BBC has a good article on the smart tree planting scheme.

“The scheme has brought benefits to thousands of families since its implementation,” said a recent International Labour Organisation report.
But Mr Raju says that Bihar – being the poorest and most lawless state of India – has not been able to spend the allocated NREGA funds.
“This is because of a lack of awareness among officials about the scheme,” he said.
The poor monsoon this year has led to lower agricultural outputs, while flash floods in some northern districts has made the situation even worse, he said.
“So the idea struck to my mind, why not involve families below the poverty line in social forestry and give them employment under this scheme for 100 days?
“Under the scheme, each family can earn a minimum of 10,200 rupees ($210).”

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Residential Fruit Picking Program in Toronto

One of the reason I love Toronto is that there are so many small programs that do great things. It seems as if every month I find another community group making the world a better place. Today I found out that in Toronto there’s a group of people who harvest all the fruit they can in the city. They pick fruit from residential trees (with permission of course) and from city trees (again, with permission) then the fruit is shared. They are called Not Far From the Tree and they are having a tree tour on Saturday which hopefully I’ll be able to attend.

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The core of our programming is our residential fruit-picking program, where we pick fruit from trees that would otherwise go to waste. We help fruit tree owners make use of the abundance of fruit that their trees offer by dispatching teams of volunteers to harvest it for them. One third goes to the fruit tree owners, another third goes to the volunteers for their labour, and the final third is distributed (by bicycle or cart) to community organizations in the neighbourhood who can make good use of the fresh fruit.

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