Just in case there are those out there who think that LAB Report is overly focused on the art side of landscape architecture, you should know that we also concern ourselves with more basic issues – like the survival of the human race. Humans have shown, over the past 100 years especially, that as a species we are uniquely capable of inflicting the most extraordinary misery on ourselves, even to the point of making ourselves extinct. Overshadowing even the threat of nuclear war is the way we are changing the planet’s climate.
One of humanity’s most notable self-destructive behaviors is our eradication of the world’s forests. As designers, we see every day the desire of the wealthy for tropical hardwoods and endeavor to find substitute materials. A greater problem though is the need of destitute people for fuel and arable (or quasi-arable) land. Past and present satellite photos of Madagascar or Haiti demonstrate what we mean.
On a hopeful note, a Dutch inventor, Pieter Hoff, has come up with a simple, cheap device which will allow reforestation of even the driest places on earth, the Groasis Waterboxx. It is a biodegradable, bio-polymer box with a top to produce and collect artificial condensation and rainwater with a hole for the tree to grow and a wick in the bottom that transmits water slowly to the roots. Once the seedling has established itself with the roots reaching several meters down, the box can be removed and reused. Even in the Moroccan Sahara tree survival was 90%. Since no outside irrigation is needed and reforestation can be done on marginal land, the box saves water in the short term and, if widely used, will create water in the long term. Check it out at www.groasis.com.