Love trees? Prioritize wildfire restoration and fighting deforestation

October 22, 2020 by  
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Love trees? Prioritize wildfire restoration and fighting deforestation Heather Clancy Thu, 10/22/2020 – 02:00 Back in my former life as a tech journo, my coverage was informed by the infamous ” hype cycle ” phrase coined by research firm Gartner to describe the arc of emerging technology adoption from the spark of innovation to mainstream adoption. Lately, I’ve been mulling that framework a great deal in the context of a much-ballyhooed nature-based solution for removing carbon emissions: planting trees. Heck, even the climate-denier-in-chief loves the idea . Right now, we are clearly in the “peak of inflated expectations” phase of the tree-planting movement, with new declarations hitting my inbox every week. Pretty much any company with a net-zero commitment has placed tree projects at the center of its short-term strategy, often as part of declarations related to the Trillion Trees initiative.   As a verified tree-hugger, I’m encouraged. But, please, it’s time to refine the dialogue: While tree-planting events in parks or schoolyards make for great photo opps, we should devote far more time to acts of restoration and conservation. That’s where we really need corporate support, both in the form of dollars and any expertise on the ground your team can provide.  That’s the spirit of the Wildfire Restoration Collaborative launched this week by the Arbor Day Foundation along with AT&T, Facebook, FedEx, Mary Kay, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Target. The first order of business: digging in to support the restoration of 8,000 acres in the burn scars of the 2018 Carr and Camp Fires. Projects in Australia, Canada and other affected U.S. forests are on the future agenda. This translates into roughly 8 million trees. Wildfire restoration is more important than ever, given the intensity of blazes fueled by climate change in the form of hotter, drier weather, according to Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe. It’s critical for rebuilding forest ecosystems and watersheds.  “What we’ve seen lately is tree seed source being destroyed by usually hot and long-burning fires, making it difficult for forests to fully regenerate,” he told me in written remarks. “Meanwhile, shrubs and brush are being left behind to act as fuel for the next megafire. Our local planting partners help determine the species, number and space of trees to promote regeneration while preventing fires of this drastic severity in the future.” P&G actually has partnered with Arbor Day on wildfire restoration since 2019, when it became the lead support for the foundation’s activity in Northern California. So far, the Family Care division of the consumer products giant has planted 50,000 trees there and 25,000 in Saxony, Germany, where forests are being damaged by storms, drought and beetle infestations. A P&G spokeswoman said this is a long-term commitment, because restoration takes years, and the company is prioritizing sites near its operations. (One of P&G’s Charmin and Bounty paper plants is in Oxnard, California.) The replanting for these two fire sites will take place over four years. In written responses to my questions, Tim Carey, vice president of sustainability at PepsiCo Beverages North America, which has provided a $1.5 million grant to support restoration, pointed to water replenishment as a key benefit. “Our investment will not only reforest the burn scars, it will result in 458 million gallons of water being replenished annually — which will be desperately needed as wildfires continue to ravage California,” he wrote. “This grant is just one of our many commitments to reforestation and water replenishment. Our goal is to replenish 100 percent of the water we use in manufacturing operations in high-water-risk areas by 2025 — and ensure that such replenishment takes place in the watershed where the extraction has occurred.” When I asked Arbor Day Foundation’s Lambe how the collaborative will prioritize restoration in the future, he said it will be a combination of factors: the damage done; how difficult it will be for the forest to regenerate on its own without intervention; how restoration might help prevent future fires. Just as important is the role the forest plays in human lives. In the months to come, I’d love to see the trillion-trees get far more sophisticated: lasering in on the vitally important nature of this restoration work, as well as importance of encouraging regenerative forestry practices.  And here’s a challenge: I’d love to see every company that jumps onto the tree-planting hype train double down on their strategy for authentically fighting deforestation. As I reported back in February, big business has a terrible track record on deforestation. Very few companies that embraced a strategy actually have accomplished that goal.  A few weeks back, Mars stepped out as a rare exception, declaring a “deforestation-free” palm oil supply chain. It managed this by cutting hundreds of suppliers, which makes me wonder where those businesses are selling their wares, and by requiring the ones that are left (just 50 by 2022, down from 1,500) to commit to specific environmental practices.  I can guarantee you institutional investors are paying more attention than ever, especially as deforestation maps directly to horrific human rights abuses all over the world — from the Amazon to Indonesia. Banks, on other hand, have fallen way short on scrutinizing deforestation risks, as I reported in February. That needs to change. Rant over, I promise. Want an early view into my weekly rants? Subscribe to the VERGE Weekly newsletter, and follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady . Pull Quote What we’ve seen lately is tree seed source being destroyed by usually hot and long-burning fires, making it difficult for forests to fully regenerate. Topics Carbon Removal Forestry Wildlife Deforestation VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Love trees? Prioritize wildfire restoration and fighting deforestation

Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harms way

April 25, 2019 by  
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Nearly one out of every 10 low-income housing projects is in a flood zone. In Houston , residents of a government-subsidized complex have sued the landlord, arguing that the subsidy system unfairly traps them in a cycle of devastation with no choice but to continuously return to where their lives are at risk and where they have lost everything — year after year. Half a million Americans live in government subsidized housing that is at direct risk for flooding. This number is modest, because the estimate is based on historical climate data and does not reflect rapidly increasing rainfall patterns. Related: National Weather Service claims 2019 flooding could cause record-breaking damage In 2016, a storm flooded the Arbor Court Apartments in Houston and residents like Sharobin White lost her car and everything in her apartment. Then in 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and again White lost her car and all her possessions. Like thousands of low-income families, Ms. White’s housing voucher is specific to her building and therefore returning to her apartment — despite the trauma and toxic mold — is her only option. Low-income residents take legal action According to an investigative article by the New York Times, the Arbor Court Apartments — like many low-income complexes — is a privately-owned building that has a contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The landlord receives payment from the government in exchange for renting to low-income tenants. Despite the known risks and exorbitant recovery expenses after the flood in 2016, the government renewed its contract with Arbor Court. Given the housing crisis throughout the country, HUD argues that without these complexes, thousands of families would be homeless. In other words, the department believes providing vulnerable housing is more urgent and beneficial than sending half a million Americans out onto the street. Similarly, the landlord’s lawyer argues that this building is just as at risk as others in the area and that despite two back-to-back floods, such catastrophes are not the norm. Climate science, however, indicates that these “ freak storms ” are indeed becoming more frequent and therefore not something that the government can afford to ignore. Low-income communities require massive amounts of assistance and funding after disasters and are least capable of recovery. By taking the risk to continue to fund such inexpensive, but repeatedly vulnerable housing, the government is setting itself up for higher costs in the long run — including losses in infrastructure and lives. Still, the government and landlords are cutting corners on recovery efforts and forcing low-income residents to return home despite glaring health risks. “Arbor Court is not a close question,” Michael M. Daniel, a civil rights lawyer working on the case, told The New York Times. “How in the world it hasn’t flunked the ‘decent, safe and sanitary’ test — it’s beyond belief.” Discontinuing decades of discrimination and danger The connection between low-income housing and unsafe conditions is not new. Land in vulnerable areas is cheaper, and therefore readily available for government and low-income projects , just as low-income and minority residents have historically been segregated to undesirable housing near toxic sites. A major shift in planning, policy and budget priorities will be necessary to begin to reverse decades of discriminatory policies, but HUD could start by discontinuing contracts with buildings in vulnerable and damaged areas. Related: High tide coastal flooding in US has doubled in the past 30 years In Houston, the Arbor Court landlord is currently constructing a new complex located 25 miles away but in a safer zone — at least in terms of flooding . Although the landlord plans to accept the same housing vouchers at that complex, residents argue that this option is still unacceptable. The new complex is located in a high-crime neighborhood, and the residents and their lawyers argue this is further perpetuating segregation. Arbor Court residents are calling for subsidized housing vouchers that could be accepted anywhere, giving the families the ability to choose where they want to live. However, the reality is that without specific state legislation, most landlords can legally refuse these vouchers and discriminate against those who have them. Safer housing solutions Some states, such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, passed legislation prohibiting landlords from refusing Section 8 housing vouchers, which is an important step in housing reform and justice. Other housing experts propose “climate vouchers,” which could give affected families the option to relocate somewhere safer, rather than being required to return to their unsafe homes in order to keep their benefit. Another possible solution would be to use disaster mitigation grant funding toward long-term relocation of housing projects and other infrastructure. Last year, HUD received $16 billion for disaster mitigation, which could be used toward building in safer zones or retrofitting buildings to be more resilient to expected storms. Once residents are relocated, flood zones should be re-converted into wetlands and open spaces, where green infrastructure like underground levees provide critical defenses that protect inland buildings from flooding. Properly designed open spaces can not only protect urban infrastructure, but also provide recreational spaces, beautify neighborhoods and raise property values. This long-term, equitable planning could ultimately save the government millions in recovery dollars after disasters hit. Via The New York Times Images via Revolution Messaging and SC National Guard

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Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harms way

In Honor of Trees: How to Celebrate Arbor Day

April 27, 2017 by  
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April is nearing its end, which means Arbor Day is upon us. What is Arbor Day, you ask? It’s a toast to trees! On this green holiday, everyone is encouraged to celebrate the important role trees play in our environment. Arbor Day is…

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In Honor of Trees: How to Celebrate Arbor Day

Arbor Lux: Enchanting Luminaries Made from Rescued Trees and Topped with Sap Resin Lamps

March 19, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Arbor Lux: Enchanting Luminaries Made from Rescued Trees and Topped with Sap Resin Lamps Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Arbor Lux , Botanical , chicago , eco-friendly resin , green lighting , recycling / compost , Tree , tree sap , trevor o’neil

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Arbor Lux: Enchanting Luminaries Made from Rescued Trees and Topped with Sap Resin Lamps

Solar Gazebo: Landscaping element embellished with decorative glassware

July 15, 2011 by  
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DATTATREYA MANDAL: Solar Gazebo Designed by Ceri Almrott Sustainable conceptions (including products) generally tend to have that nature of essentiality associated with them, like basic electricity generation or low emission modes of transport. But with that definite line of economic progression, some sections of this green technology oriented market are already starting to make serious inroads into the domain of comfort and luxury products. The Solar Gazebo conceptualized by Ceri Almrott falls in this latter category, and it will be a solar powered arbor (pergola) flanked by decorative glass elements. Solar Gazebo Designed by Ceri Almrott An arbor is basically a landscaping feature (especially situated in a garden) in which a definite seating area is skirted by vertical members (like posts or panels), which in turn supports a flexible roofing system. The Solar Gazebo will be a sort of glass arbor, where ‘clean and green’ solar power will be utilized to illuminate the surrounding decorative glass. The dynamic effect will result in a vivacious play of light, color and transparency, and thus bestow an essence of sublimity to the entire spatial volume. Solar Gazebo Designed by Ceri Almrott The whole conception is based on the recent constructional trend of glassware applications in the field of architecture. In this case, the main component i.e. the unique glass facades will be supplied by Creative Glass LTD – a company know for its custom made decorative glassware. The arbor is to be built in Stockton-on-Tees, a market town of North-East England. And according to the prevailing pricing strategy of Creative Glass products, the designer has made an estimate of cost regarding his conception at a range of £9,000 (or $14,490) for the basic offering, to £20,000 ($32,000) for the top of the line model. Certainly beyond the ‘range’ of most of our pockets; but then again one can’t simply deny the low energy, sustainable side to this artistic conception of landscaping architecture. Via: Behance

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Solar Gazebo: Landscaping element embellished with decorative glassware

Aquamarine Power’s next-generation Oyster 800 unveiled

July 15, 2011 by  
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Babita Sajnani: Oyster 800 Developed by Aquamarine Power Aquamarine Power recently unveiled their latest in the Oyster series – Oyster 800, a device that converts wave energy into usable electricity. The First Minister Alex Salmond MSP from Scotland was given the honors to launch this next-gen converter. Oyster 800 is an 800KW device that has been improvised from its predecessor in terms of simplified installation, easier maintenance and better power output. The device would not be shipped from the Firth of Forth to EMEC (Europe and Marine Energy Center) located in Orkney for getting installed and would be connected to a hydro-electric plant onshore. The Oyster 800 would be able to tap wave energy more efficiently and because of alterations in its operations and maintenance systems – the device would prove to be much more cost-efficient. Scotland is making great efforts to utilize its abundant offshore renewable wave energy and hence reduce carbon footprint by creating clean green electricity. The Oyster 800 is touted to be extremely cost effective as it would offer 250% more energy at only one third of the expenditure. It is estimated that around 20 such devices would be capable of generating electricity for 15 thousand houses. Wave energy is very effective as waves do not cease even if there are no strong gusts of wind. Hence waves occur in a rhythmic pattern – undisturbed and continuous. The Oyster 800 would definitely be the next generation product in the field of wave technology and would be a precedent for others to follow in order to tap natural resources for cleaner and greener energy. It is assumed that tidal and wave energy could fulfill one fifth of Britain’s requirements and lead to generation of £76bn to the British economy along with thousands of jobs! Via: AquaMarinePower

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Aquamarine Power’s next-generation Oyster 800 unveiled

Glen Howells’ Savill Building merges sustainability with architectural elegance

July 15, 2011 by  
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Sangeeta Ghosh Dastidar: Savill Building Designed by Glenn Howells Architects Britain’s love for its great outdoors has now transcended to architectural marvels in modern times. The Savill Garden at Surrey is one such architectural landmark that brings out the creativity, design sensitivity, and ecofriendly demeanour of its creator; Glen Howells Architects . In collaboration with Buro Happold and Robert Haskins Waters Engineers, the building is now considered a prime tourist attraction. Picture Gallery Savill Building Savill Building by Glen Howells Architects This British design hallmark forms an integral part of the Windsor Great Park and is stationed as the first point of contact for all visitors. Considered as a part of the Royal Landscape genre, the building was inaugurated on June 26, 2006 by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh. The structure itself resembles an enormously shaped grid shell. This feature stands unique and is based on the British ‘pavilion to park’ model. The site combats the challenges of having the visitor pavilion within an ecologically sensitive parkland boundary. The building is tucked away into a hill on the north side of the Crown Estate. The curvaceous facade of the Savill Building resembles a giant fallen leaf and sometimes its open roof resembles a giant snake’s scaly form. The shape provides a sinuous exterior paved with its elegant roof. The curvature of the roof is well blended with glass and steel without compromising on natural light and ventilation. The timber and other renewable resources for constructing this ecologically sound grid shell structure have been procured from within the Crown Estate. This not only ensures less damage to the environment by aligning itself to the vast skyline of trees in their prime but the building also gets an aura of being hidden on the hill. The grid structure is supported by angled steel legs that hold a steel beam running around the perimeter of the dome. This is further held by dramatically placed raked steel columns. The large wooden frame of the roof shelters a central dome running 100×10 meters. This houses a reception area for admissions, a restaurant, a gift, and a plant shop.The temperature of the building is moderated by the earth. It is also partially covered with a green roof. The Southern side has a curved curtain like expanse that lets the sun in while allowing beautiful views of the surrounding gardens. Heat is generated through passive solar units which regulates temperature and also generates appropriate heat. The area from the car park to the east side of the building houses various amenities such as toilets, kitchens, and other accommodation. On this side, the roof seems to be rise just above the earth and appears close to the ground. Because the building lacks internal structures, it bestows flexibility to the internal spaces that can be creatively configured to suit different functions. Via: World Architecture News

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Glen Howells’ Savill Building merges sustainability with architectural elegance

PHOTOS: Inhabitat Celebrates PARK(ing) Day Coast to Coast!

September 18, 2010 by  
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Read the rest of PHOTOS: Inhabitat Celebrates PARK(ing) Day Coast to Coast! http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/ohttp://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=better_feedptions-general.php?page=better_feed Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: green design , parking day , pop up park , public space , sustainable design , Urban design

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PHOTOS: Inhabitat Celebrates PARK(ing) Day Coast to Coast!

Dress Reform Infuses Safari Chic Into Its Spring 2011 Line

September 18, 2010 by  
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Don’t bother borrowing your boyfriend’s jeans, instead open your closet and invite him in to share in your fashion splendor. Dress Reform by designer Krystal Hoffacker made its debut at  The GreenShows on Tuesday.

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Dress Reform Infuses Safari Chic Into Its Spring 2011 Line

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