Architects propose a massive forest park to be the Green Lungs of Hanoi

October 30, 2020 by  
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Air pollution has become a major problem in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, that was ranked the seventh capital city with the highest average annual PM 2.5 concentration by the 2019 World Air Report. In a bid to improve air quality while encouraging healthier lifestyles, local architecture firm ODDO Architects has embarked on an ambitious project to transform the tail end of the city’s Banana Island into a 26-hectare subtropical alluvial forest with recreational activities. Dubbed the Green Lungs of Hanoi, the proposed design is based on a 15-year plan for developing a lush canopy with mature trees measuring 8 to 15 meters tall. Located close to the city center, Banana Island is a 7-kilometer-long island that is largely undeveloped and unoccupied. According to the architects’ site study, the island suffers from inefficient land use, lack of management and illegal land usage that’s tied to poor living conditions for families who live there without access to clean water or electricity. With “Green Lungs of Hanoi,” the architects want to turn the island into a welcoming green space for the public with forest trails, pedestrian bridges and recreational activities that emphasize connections with nature. Related: Fruit trees grow on the roofs of this rammed earth home in Hanoi To realize their vision that they’ve developed over the past 1.5 years, the architects plan to work closely with the local government and community to recruit a team of volunteers of all ages to plant native trees and oversee long-term maintenance. The project also aims to raise awareness of the region’s endangered bird species, which have dwindled in recent years. In addition to providing an attractive green respite for Hanoi citizens, the architects hope to create a biodiverse habitat to increase local fauna populations. “The alluvial soil on the island also poses an issue regarding flooding and landslides due to its softness,” the architects noted of one of the project challenges. “However with semi-aquatic tree species like the one Green Lungs proposes, the land surrounding the river will be reinforced and become much stronger: preventing landslides from occurring. The location of Banana Island is extremely favorable for a green space. With its large area, and central location, it acts as Hanoi’s Lungs — purifying the air quality but also reviving an ecosystem, attracting new biodiversity and becoming a valuable and rich alluvial forest amidst the city.” + ODDO Architects Images via ODDO Architects

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Architects propose a massive forest park to be the Green Lungs of Hanoi

Bring the garden indoors with these eerie Halloween plants

October 30, 2020 by  
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October brings falling leaves, pumpkin spice and that devilish holiday that inspires all of us to turn our cozy abode into a haunted house. In addition to creepy treats, ghostly images and spooky decor, living plants are the perfect Halloween accent to celebrate both the holiday and the planet. Our friends at  Plants.com  conjured up some witchy good examples of indoor plants that will live long after the season has passed, all with no plastic, no waste, and a literal breath of fresh air.  Devil’s Ivy Any good Halloween event includes a touch of evil, making Devil’s Ivy the perfect match for the holiday. This plant earned its King of Hell status for its ability to live through any type of treatment, including lack of light and inconsistent watering . Even in less than ideal growing conditions, Devil’s Ivy stays green year-round, with the leaves forming a zigzag spine that will be the talk of the party. Related: Simple, sustainable DIY Halloween decor Polly (Alocasia) While other plants lurk in the shadows, Polly enjoys copious amounts of light and thrives on high humidity, such as that provided in the bathroom, kitchen or sunroom. During the Halloween season, use Polly as table decor, where the striking white veins running through the shield-shaped leaves create an eerie addition to the  decor . Black Echeveria The color black is ubiquitous during Halloween, making Black Echeveria a welcome addition to your spooky interior design. With nearly black leaves, the plant couples well with pumpkins or gourds for a festive touch. Or place it near a witch’s cauldron and broomstick on the  food  table as an accent for the scene. When the holiday passes, keep your Black Echeveria happy in a brightly lit area and enjoy its low-water needs. Painted Leaf Begonia The Painted-Leaf Begonia offers fabulous fall shades of green, red, silver and purple and makes the ideal accent to your orange and black decorations. Plus, the eye-catching texture sparks conversation long after All-Hallows Eve . Orange Fall Mum Bringing out  nature’s floral display  is easy with the intrinsically Halloween-colored Orange Fall Mum. The best part? These long-lasting blooms may stick around for the next holiday, to which the color theme still applies. Mums are forgiving enough to act as fireplace mantle or front porch decor and ask little in return for their colorful display. These options are just a sample of live decor that can brighten up your holiday . They add a naturally spooky vibe that makes an equally great hostess or guest gift for events now or in the future. For more information, visit www.plants.com. + Plants.com Images via Plants.com and Pexels

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Bring the garden indoors with these eerie Halloween plants

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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Climate crisis could turn the Amazon rainforest to savanna

October 6, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the journal Nature Communications indicates that the Amazon rainforest could shift from a closed canopy rainforest to an open savanna due to the climate crisis. The study shows that the rate of deforestation coupled with forest fires sparked by climate change could significantly change the status of the rainforest in the future. According to the researchers, rainforests are very sensitive to changes in rainfall. If they experience prolonged droughts and fires like the ones recently witnessed in the Amazon , they may lose more trees and become more like a savanna. Although scientists have always known that this was possible, it was thought that such changes were decades away. The new study, led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, now indicates that the changes are much closer than initially anticipated. Related: You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch Almost 40% of the Amazon is already receiving less rainfall than usual and is at the point where it could exist as a savanna instead of a rainforest . While the researchers say that the process of fully changing the forest to savanna would take decades, they also say that once the process starts, it is nearly irreversible. “Drier conditions make it harder for the forest to recover and increase the flammability of the ecosystem,” Arie Staal, lead author of the study, told The Guardian . If the Amazon rainforest changes to a savanna, there would be dangerous consequences. Rainforests are important because they support a huge number of species and absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If the rainforest changes, much of the plant and animal species here could be lost. The problems experienced by rainforests like the Amazon are exacerbated by harmful policies. For instance, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has made promises to develop the Amazon , a move that has been criticized by many. This year, the Amazon has experienced a 60% increase in fire hotspots compared to 2019. The study now warns that if such fires continue, the rainforest could be permanently altered. + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Jose Eduardo Camargo

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Maryland bans single-use foam containers

October 6, 2020 by  
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Last week, Maryland became the first U.S. state to ban single-use foam containers for carryout. Although the legislation banning their use was passed in 2019, it came into effect on Thursday, October 1. Among the items that will be prohibited in the new law include cups, plates, trays and containers. All entities in the state will be affected by the law, including businesses and institutions, such as schools. Originally, the state had set July 1 as the deadline for implementing the new law. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline was pushed to October 1. Even with the delays, many cities and counties within the state had already implemented the ban early. Related: Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers Democratic Delegate Brooke Lierman was the main sponsor of the House bill that led to the new law. Although she had proposed the bill twice before, it was unsuccessful. But due to the recent climatic events, her colleagues started to shift their positions. According to Lierman, plastics are already hurting our environment, and actions have to be taken now to stop their effects. “Single-use plastics are overrunning our oceans and bays and neighborhoods,” Lierman said. “We need to take dramatic steps to start stemming our use and reliance on them … to leave future generations a planet full of wildlife and green space.” For a long time, polystyrene foam containers have been the go-to solution for businesses. They provide a cheap option for food packaging and are preferred by most business operators. But they are detrimental to the environment. In opposition to the new bill, the American Chemistry Council said that banning the single-use containers would vastly harm the local businesses. “Polystyrene foam packaging and containers provide business owners and consumers with a cost-effective and environmentally preferable choice that is ideal for protecting food and preventing food waste , particularly when used for food service,” the council argued. “Foam packaging is generally more than 90 percent air and has a lighter environmental impact than alternatives.” Although the law does not leave loopholes for continued use of the outlawed products, the Maryland Department of Environment allows schools and other institutions to apply for a grace period of up to one year. This will only be granted in special situations, where the institution may not be able to fulfill the ban in time. + Maryland Expanded Polystyrene Ban Via CNN Image via Jens S.

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Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China

October 6, 2020 by  
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Chinese architecture firms Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab have designed and built the Mountain & Cloud Cabins, a boutique hotel hidden in the mountains of Yichang in China’s Hubei province. Commissioned by the local cultural and tourism development agency, the nature-focused hospitality project features 18 timber cabins that are prefabricated and strategically sited for reduced site impact and optimized landscape views. The cabins are also engineered for energy efficiency and include a floor heating system and a fresh air exchange system. Completed earlier this year, the Mountain & Cloud Cabins project takes cues from the lead architect Mu Wei’s experiences living in Norway. The mountainous site in Hubei reminded Wei of the Norwegian landscape, so he channeled Scandinavian minimalism for the design of the modern cabins. The project includes hotel rooms, a cafe and a swimming pool. There are five different types of cabins that range from 35 square meters to 65 square meters in size. Each cabin’s main structure can be assembled in one day thanks to the use of prefabricated, cross-laminated timber panels. Related: Sophisticated, sustainable lakeside cabin showcases the best of Nordic minimalism “You can never order nature, besides you become part of it,” explained the architects, who endeavored to blend the buildings into the landscape. “We try to design and build as nature: cabins seem to come from the future, but disappear in the nature. They are the viewfinders of nature and breathe freely in the forest.” While the structure of the buildings are built of timber, the exterior of the cabins vary depending on the location. A bridge-like cabin that spans the tea valley, for instance, takes the form of an elevated, 14-meter-long wooden bridge with a courtyard terrace, while the angular, spacecraft-like LOFT cabins perched higher up on the mountain are clad in mirrored metal plates that reflect the surrounding environment. The unusual shapes of the various cabins lend the project an extra layer of mystique in the foggy tea field landscape. + Wiki World Photography by ?????? via Wiki World

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Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China

Indigenous Amazon communities use tech to protect the forest

August 12, 2020 by  
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Indigenous communities in Brazil leverage technology to protect the Amazon and its resources. For a long time, Indigenous communities have protected the forest from illegal loggers and poachers. As aerial images show, the lush areas protected by Indigenous groups sharply contrast the struggling surrounding regions. The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe, located in a remote area of the Amazon, specifically makes strong efforts to protect the forest. The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe’s work is not isolated. Hundreds of Indigenous communities across South America help conserve nature. South America serves as home to about 40% of the world’s vegetation. Indigenous groups offer surveillance to areas of forests targeted for developments, farming, mining or logging. As Bitaté Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, coordinator of the Association of the Indigenous People Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, said in an interview, “When they kill a jaguar it is the same as they will do with indigenous people in the future. Killing the jaguar, they also kill us like deforestation , mining, intoxication. It gives me deep sadness to receive the news that a jaguar has been killed. We don’t kill the jaguar. When we see the jaguar in his habitat it is a beautiful thing to see, we just admire the presence.” The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau and other local groups now use drones to survey the forests. Such technology makes it possible for the villagers to monitor large areas of the forest and navigate tough terrain. Communities in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador are quickly adopting this technology for similar purposes. The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe first came into contact with the outside world in the 1990s. Since then, the tribe has integrated technology into its forest management practices. Today, one of the nine Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe villages has wifi connection, while four other villages have electricity. The  WWF UK  in association with WWF Brazil and  Kaninde Association of Ethno-Environmental Protection  funded the drones used by the tribes. Kaninde, a Brazilian NGO, works with Indigenous communities to integrating technology into forest conservation efforts. Via Independent Image via Pexels

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Earth911 Podcast: Forest Founders’ Ford Seeman On Building a Sustainable Business and Life

August 10, 2020 by  
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Earth911.com talks with Ford Seeman, founder of Forest Founders, a … The post Earth911 Podcast: Forest Founders’ Ford Seeman On Building a Sustainable Business and Life appeared first on Earth 911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Forest Founders’ Ford Seeman On Building a Sustainable Business and Life

This rammed earth passive house in Japan is shaped like a shell

July 16, 2020 by  
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This small, shell-shaped villa — made using local wood, rammed earth and traditional techniques — is located in the forest of Nagano Prefecture in the center of Japan. Known as the Shell House, the project request came from a client who wanted a contemporary and unique home that could blend into the surrounding forest with minimal environmental impact. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Shell-House-13-889×592.jpg" alt="small, round wood home with wood door" class="wp-image-2275164" To blend the Shell House into the surrounding environment as organically as possible, the designers chose a rounded, shell-inspired shape and constructed the structure using locally sourced natural materials . Local, FSC-certified wood and earth went most into most of the building, with additional sustainable elements including hand-built construction and the elimination of petrochemical materials. Related: Hawk Nest House combines rammed earth and local stone <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Shell-House-2-889×592.jpg" alt="round wood home in a forest" class="wp-image-2275175" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Shell-House-7-889×592.jpg" alt="wood kitchen island facing a wall of glass" class="wp-image-2275170" The entire structure was built per passive house principles to Japanese standards. The home satisfies the environmental assessment’s primary energy consumption requirements, and then some, with 11% less energy consumption than the country’s standard. Windows and doors are made of aluminum and resin composite with double- and triple-paned glass. The outside roof is made of asphalt, and the fireplace inside is also made of rammed earth. The earthen walls are combined with 180 millimeter wool insulation to complete the energy-efficient package. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Shell-House-11-889×592.jpg" alt="fireplace built into a rammed earth wall" class="wp-image-2275166" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Shell-House-9-889×592.jpg" alt="loft with wood ceiling beams above a kitchen with wooden island and cabinets" class="wp-image-2275168" Interior rooms are finished with local earth and wood as well as the rammed earth wall that makes up the curved surface of the exterior. The southeast wooden fittings are designed to become integrated with the forest through the deck, which is also made of sustainably sourced wood . According to the architects, the seven beams connected to the rammed earth wall are inspired by the cycle of human life and the universe, with the two inscribed circles representing the correspondence of them. Ideally, once the villa has reached the end of its life, the materials can be returned back to the earth. + Tono Mirai Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Tono Mirai Architects <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Shell-House-10-889×592.jpg" alt="kitchen opening up to wooden outdoor deck" class="wp-image-2275167"

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This rammed earth passive house in Japan is shaped like a shell

Climate change, deforestation lead to younger, shorter trees

June 4, 2020 by  
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Recently published research in  Science  magazine warns that older, taller  trees  are quickly becoming a thing of the past, consequently leaving forests in disarray. Forest dynamics being disrupted like this spells trouble for ecosystem equilibrium and  biodiversity .  While natural disturbances —  flooding , landslides, insect infestations, fungi, vine overgrowth, disease, wildfire and even wind damage — negatively impact  forests , they do not compare with the magnitude of harm humans have precipitated. Consider how over-harvesting trees for more land use has altered forest landscapes. The felling of numerous tree stands has severely dwindled the carbon sinks required to fix excess atmospheric carbon resultant from human-induced  greenhouse gas emissions .  Related:  What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? Without the necessary  carbon  storage from forest trees, global temperatures will continue to rise and intensify consequent climate change damage.  Climate change  exacerbates conditions through insect and pathogen outbreaks that further compromise tree health and development. In fact,  research  has shown that annual “carbon storage lost to insects” equals “the amount of carbon emitted by 5 million vehicles.” This illustrates how substantial tree decline due to insects can be.  Why are biologists worried about the adversely shifting forest dynamics? As the  U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)  explained, “Wood harvests alone have had a huge impact on the shift of global forests towards younger ages or towards non-forest land, reducing the amount of forests, and old-growth forests, globally. Where forests are re-established on harvested land, the trees are smaller and  biomass  is reduced.”  Conservationists  subsequently admonish that continuing with business as usual will only worsen the conditions that increase tree mortality rates and the accompanying biodiversity crisis. As  NPR  reported, “Researchers found that the world lost roughly one-third of its old growth forest between 1900 and 2015. In North America and Europe , where more data was available, they found that tree mortality has doubled in the past 40 years.” It is believed these worrying trends will persist unless changes are made and new protection policies enacted.  Research team lead, Nate McDowell of PNNL, realized there was a major problem as he studied how global temperature rise affected tree growth and the changes occurring within a forest. Satellite imagery and modeling data unveiled a comprehensive view of the state of global forests and their shifts from older, taller trees to younger, shorter ones. The overall picture is of extensive loss. “I would recommend that people try to visit places with big trees now, while they can, with their kids,” McDowell advised. “Because there’s some significant threat, that might not be possible sometime in the future.” McDowell’s research ties in closely with last summer’s study from  National Science Review , which showcased how exposure to both rising temperatures and extreme temperature ranges have decreased  vegetation  growth throughout the northern hemisphere. The finding upended previous beliefs that  global warming  would increase vegetation photosynthesis and extend the photosynthetic growing season. Instead, global warming was seen to increase the chances of  drought  and wildfire, which reduced water availability and therefore distressed forest vegetation. + Science Via NPR and PNNL

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