Historic White House tree to be chopped down

December 27, 2017 by  
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The Jackson Magnolia that has adorned the White House South Lawn since the 1800s is coming down. Brought by President Andrew Jackson from Tennessee, and said to be planted in memory of his wife Rachel who died not too long after his 1828 election, the tree is slated for removal later this week. According to CNN , First Lady Melania Trump made the call as the tree is reportedly too decayed to stay in place. The Jackson Magnolia is the oldest on White House grounds, reported CNN. There have been many efforts to preserve it over the years, such as a cabling system. United States National Arboretum specialists came in at the request of the White House to assess the tree, and CNN obtained documents that said, “The overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support. Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago. Presently, and very concerning, the cabling system is failing on the east trunk, as a cable has pulled through the very thin layer of wood that remains. It is difficult to predict when and how many more will fail.” Related: Washington DC’s national monuments are getting slimed White House officials fear the tree could fall when President Donald Trump’s helicopter takes off nearby. The First Lady’s director of communications Stephanie Grisham told CNN, “After reviewing the reports, [Mrs. Trump] trusted that every effort had been made to preserve the historic tree and was concerned about the safety of visitors and members of the press who are often standing right in front of the tree during Marine One lifts,” adding the First Lady asked that wood from the Jackson Magnolia be preserved. CNN reported offshoots of the tree have grown to around eight to 10 feet tall at an undisclosed location nearby, and there are plans for a new Jackson Magnolia to be planted in place of the old. Via CNN Images via U.S. Pacific Command and achuertas on Flickr

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Historic White House tree to be chopped down

Lightweight suspended tree tent can hold a whopping 700 pounds

December 27, 2017 by  
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For campers who are sick of lugging around bulky old-fashioned tents, the Tentnest is a breath of fresh air. Part hammock and part tent, the lightweight system fits easily in a backpack and can be set up anywhere in just 15 minutes. Even though it is suspended off the ground, the Tentnest is quite sturdy and can withstand some serious weight – more than 700 pounds. The Tentnest, which recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, was designed to streamline the adventure process. Thanks to its easy-to-hang system , the tent can be set up in just minutes in virtually any landscape. The only thing it needs is three trees or connection spots for the straps. It’s also very spacious and can sleep a family of three, two full-size adults and a child. Related: This hybrid hammock tent lets you float between the trees The suspended system avoids that bothersome feeling of sleeping on rocks or hard land. And since it’s off the ground, there’s no creepy crawlies around to bite you. It’s also 100% waterproof with zippered entrances, so if you find yourself in the middle of a rain or snow storm, Tentnest has got you covered, literally. + Tentnest Kickstarter

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Lightweight suspended tree tent can hold a whopping 700 pounds

This human-sized birdhouse for two is perched among the treetops

November 14, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wished you could make like a bird and roost in the trees, you’ll love this charming birdhouse-shaped hideaway nestled in a British Columbia forest. Calgary-based design firm Studio North recently completed Birdhut, a cozy nest for people and birds alike. Built of reclaimed pine felled by a recent fire, the tiny 100-square-foot structure uses locally scavenged materials to mimic a bird’s nest-building process. Accessible via a bridge to the hillside, the cozy one-room Birdhut sleeps two (and a dog). Salvaged lodgepodge pines were used for the cross-braced structure, while planks reclaimed from a cabin deck are used for the platform and cladding. Western Red Cedar rounded shingles clad the facade and 8-millimeter clear polycarbonate panels top the roof, letting ample natural daylight into the cabin. Two circular windows let in natural ventilation. Related: Enchanting birdhouses inspired by famous architecture Twelve smaller circular holes punctuate the facade, each designed for different native birds . “The pileated woodpecker for instance, is a larger bird that seeks out a nesting space 15 to 25 feet above ground, with a 4” entry hole and an 8”x8”x24” cavity,” wrote the designers. “The warbler, on the other hand, is a smaller bird that typically nests 9 feet above ground with a 1 1/8” hole and a 4”x4”x6” cavity. Considering both the largest and smallest varieties of local birds, the hut sits 9 feet off the ground, with its peak at 20 feet above the ground and birdhouses scattered in between.” + Studio North Images by Mark Erickson

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This human-sized birdhouse for two is perched among the treetops

73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

October 31, 2017 by  
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Conservation International aims to plant 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon as part of the largest ever undertaking of its kind. In what is being called the “arc of deforestation” in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Acre, Pará, and Rondônia, as well as throughout the Xingu watershed, trees will be planted as part of a project that, in the short-term, aims to restore 70,000 acres of tropical forest. “If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C [degrees of warming] target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests in particular has to be a big part of that,” said M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, in an interview with Fast Company . “It’s not just the trees that matter, but what kind of trees ,” said Sanjayan. “If you’re really thinking about getting carbon dioxide out of atmosphere, then tropical forests are the ones that end up mattering the most.” Ceasing deforestation would allow for the absorption of 37 percent of the world’s annual carbon emissions yet scientists worry that 20 percent of the Amazon may be deforested in the next two decades, in addition to the 20 percent that was deforested in the past 40 years. To combat this rapid pace of destruction, Conservation International is utilizing new, efficient planting techniques that could be applied worldwide. “This is not a stunt,” said Sanjayan. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.” Related: Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States The planting method used in the project is known as muvuca , which is a Portuguese word to describe many people in a small place. In  muvuca, hundreds of native tree seeds of various species are spread over every inch of deforested land. Natural selection then allows the most suited to survive and thrive. A 2014 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization and Biodiversity International found that more than 90 percent of native tree species planted using the  muvuca method germinate and are well suited to survive drought conditions for up to six months. “With plant-by-plant reforestation techniques, you get a typical density of about 160 plants per hectare,” said Rodrigo Medeiros, Conservation International’s vice president of the Brazil program and project lead, according to Fast Company . “With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.” Via Fast Company Images via Depositphotos (1)

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73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

This living hammock is a swinging seat made of soil-less plants

October 2, 2017 by  
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Ever imagine swinging from the trees in a hammock made of plants? Spanish artist Ainhoa Garmendia is making the fantasy into reality. Her Naturalise installation features a hammock made out of soil-less living plants woven into a sturdy fabric. The piece is a statement that calls to fight our contemporary throw-away culture in favor of something lasting and living. “We are very used to short-life objects. We were taught that recycling is good, when the real solution is just not to produce waste. We take advantage of plants’ benefits, while they have many structural and functional characteristics to be applied when they are still alive” said Ainhoa Garmendia in an interview with Inhabitat. “Naturalise is a verb, an action and a process of creating objects that keep growing and are alive” explained the artist added. To realize Naturalise Ainhoa Garmendia chose Tillandsia Usneoides (known also as a Spanish Moss), a plant that needs no soil to grow and requires little water. Its long, soft fibers are a perfect medium for the hand weaving realized by the artist herself. The Naturalise hammock can be seen as a metaphor. The suspended in-air object made of plants, a typical earthly material, embodies an idea of reconnection with nature, bringing the idea of sustainability and eco-awareness to a new level. Related: Asif Khan creates spectacular furniture with flowers The Naturalise living hammock was first showcased in Milan at “I see colors everywhere” exhibition at La Triennale di Milano curated by the clothing brand United Colors of Benetton and Fabrica communication research center fore Milan Fashion Week 2017. + Ainhoa Garmendia Images via Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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This living hammock is a swinging seat made of soil-less plants

Megacities could save $505 million a year thanks to trees

August 30, 2017 by  
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Trees offer enormous monetary benefit to megacities , or those urban areas where over 10 million people reside. New research led by Theodore Endreny of SUNY’s College of Environmental Studies and Forestry highlights the idea that cities shouldn’t overlook the immense value of these plants: every year they could offer a payoff of $482 million in lowered air pollution , $11 million in stormwater remediation, $8 million in carbon dioxide sequestration , and $500,000 savings on heating and cooling costs. The researchers looked at Los Angeles, Beijing, Tokyo, Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Moscow, London, Istanbul, Mexico City, and Cairo. They built on estimates from the i-Tree model developed by the United States Forest Service , which analyzes environmental benefits from trees, with local data. They found median tree cover in all the cities was 21 percent, with potential tree cover at 19 percent. Tree cover varies by megacity – for example, in Cairo tree cover is just 8.1 percent while in Moscow it’s 36 percent. Tokyo claims the prize for greatest tree canopy cover per person, according to CityLab. Related: California street trees are worth $1 billion, says USFS and UC Davis The benefits each megacity reaps from trees varies some as well. Cairo doesn’t receive much precipitation so they don’t benefit that much from stormwater remediation. And Mumbai’s energy expenditures aren’t as high as other megacities’ so it doesn’t benefit as much in that area. Los Angeles got the most benefit from trees sequestering carbon dioxide. The researchers suggest cities plant more trees to nearly double the benefits gleaned from the leafy canopies. And as nearly 10 percent of humans live in megacities, the move could serve millions of people. The journal Ecological Modelling made the research available online at the end of July. Six researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the Parthenope University of Naples contributed to the study. Via CityLab Images via Laith Abdulkareem on Unsplash and Florian ? on Unsplash

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Megacities could save $505 million a year thanks to trees

How orange peels helped barren land in Costa Rica spring back to life

August 23, 2017 by  
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There’s more to oranges than juice! Back in the 1990’s, two ecologists suggested orange juice manufacturer Del Oro donate some of their land near a national park in Costa Rica ; in exchange, they’d be able to deposit agricultural waste for free on degraded land inside the park. Del Oro agreed and dumped 1,000 truckloads of orange pulp and peels on the land. Today, that area is a thriving forest . A Princeton University -led team of researchers journeyed to the forest to discover just how much that food trash transformed the forest – and how other businesses might do the same. Del Oro donated land to Área de Conservación Guanacaste at the suggestion of husband and wife ecologist team Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs, who’d worked as advisors at the park. The company unloaded around 12,000 metric tons of orange waste for biodegradation until rival company TicoFruit sued, saying Del Oro had defiled the park. TicoFruit won and the land went largely overlooked for over a decade. Related: 16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels Years later, environmental researchers decided to evaluate the site. They discovered a lush forest that had a 176 percent increase in aboveground biomass – what Princeton described as the trees’ wood – in the seven acres they studied. They also found a difference between areas where orange peels hadn’t been dumped and where they had – according to Princeton, the latter showed richer soil, greater tree-species richness, and more closure in the forest canopy. The researchers think regenerating forests with agricultural waste could help us sequester carbon . Princeton graduate student Timothy Treuer said in a statement, “This is one of the only instances I’ve ever heard of where you can have cost-negative carbon sequestration. It’s not just a win-win between the company and the local park – it’s a win for everyone.” Princeton University ecologist David Wilcove thinks more businesses could help the environment in similar ways. He said while companies do generate environmental problems, “…an awful lot of those problems can be alleviated if the private sector and the environmental community work together. I’m confident we’ll find many more opportunities to use the leftovers from industrial food production to bring back tropical forests. That’s recycling at its best.” University of Pennsylvania , Beloit College , and University of Minnesota scientists joined the Princeton researchers to write a study published by the journal Restoration Ecology this week. Via Princeton Environmental Institute Images via Pixabay and Princeton University

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How orange peels helped barren land in Costa Rica spring back to life

Drones are planting an entire forest from the sky

August 14, 2017 by  
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When we think of drones , most of us picture the selfie-taking, novelty video-making robots buzzing around tourist spots. But for one group of villagers in Myanmar, drones are providing a much more important service: an Irish startup is using them to help residents replant an entire forest from the sky. Restoring a damaged ecosystem is time-consuming and difficult work that can take years to complete. Villagers in the Irrawaddy River delta have been hand-planting 2.7 million mangrove trees in order to restore the local forests, but they started looking for an easier way to get the job done. They found the solution with BioCarbon Engineering , which uses drones to plant as many as 100,000 trees in a single day. Related: Can drones plant one billion trees? In order to plant that many trees, the drones take a systematic approach, flying over the land to map the topography and choose the best location for planting. A second wave of drones then fly over the area and “fire”  seed pods into the ground in accordance with calculations made by previous drones. The drone-planting project will start this September, covering about 250 hectares with 1 million new trees, in addition to the 750 hectares that the villagers have already planted. If all goes according to plan, eventually BioCarbon Engineering will help plant up to 1 billion trees in the area. The startup is working along with Worldview International Foundation , a nonprofit that manages tree-planting projects. In Myanmar, mangrove trees are particularly important because they help provide an ecosystem for fish to live in, and they protect coastlines from storms. Restoring the trees will go a long way toward protecting vulnerable people living in the coastal areas. Via Fast Company

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Drones are planting an entire forest from the sky

Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food

August 14, 2017 by  
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A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but an amazing urban farm flourishes on Governors Island . An inspiring GrowNYC initiative is teaching inner city kids how to plant, water, harvest, and cook pesticide-free fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Located on Governors Island just a quick ferry ride from lower Manhattan, the Teaching Garden is a 21,000-square-foot urban farm that offers free educational field trips to NYC students—many of whom have never seen how food is grown. Now in its fourth season, the half-acre Governors Island Teaching Garden comprises raised planters, a fruit orchard, an outdoor kitchen with a large solar oven , high-tunnel greenhouse, and even an aquaponics system housed inside a converted shipping container . The Teaching Garden currently has 69 individual planting beds built from recycled plastic lumber with over 40 plant varieties during the summer season. Although the urban farm isn’t certified organic, all the fruits, herbs, and vegetables are grown with all-natural and pesticide-free practices. Earth Matter NY supplies the compost. “There are students here every day of the week so we want to encourage students to be able to eat straight from the plant so we don’t want to put anything harmful in the plants,” said GrowNYC to Inhabitat during a farm tour. “But we do have natural pest management such as introducing ladybugs to eat the unwanted insects.” Related: Project Farmhouse community space with wall of edible plants coming to Union Square The majority of students who visit are from immigrant families, such as the group of fourth graders from PS 503 present on the day we visited. The educational journey begins with an introduction about the fruits and vegetables the participants harvest as well as a lesson on their nutritional value. The group is then led to the different planting beds and orchard to pick ingredients, followed by a trip to the outdoor kitchen for a lesson on cooking what they harvested for a true farm-to-fork experience. The students also plant seeds for future harvests and learn about sustainable initiatives ranging from renewable energy to recycling and composting. “We feel that young people in the city don’t have the same opportunities to experience the natural world,” said GrowNYC. “So we want to provide that for them and hope that when they leave they feel a connection and feel more comfortable with eating healthy fruits and vegetables, or even in cooking. Almost all the food we grow here the students eat. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t have to bring more food onto the island so we made an expansion to grow more food to reach self-sufficiency . Now we only bring on olive oil and spices. Expansion also lets us to bring more students out here and slightly larger classes. It also shows students what a small scale farm would look like.” In addition to expansion, the Teaching Garden is in the process of building a solar-powered aquaponics system designed by Harbor School students and housed inside a shipping container. The nitrate-rich water taken from the tilapia holding tanks will be pumped up to the roof where it’ll be used to irrigate vegetables. Other sustainably minded projects are being built with the help of corporate volunteers. CSR programs help subsidize most of the costs of the Teaching Garden to keep the educational program free for students. In addition to school visits, the urban farm is open to the public on weekends during Governors Island’s open season that runs until mid-autumn. + Governors Island Teaching Garden Images © Lucy Wang

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Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food

Floating Cloud lamp adds levitating magic to any room

August 14, 2017 by  
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Take your home to new atmospheric levels with this incredible floating cloud lamp. Designed by Richard Clarkson Studio and Crealev , Floating Cloud is a magnetically levitating ambient lamp that adds a magical touch to any room it hovers in. The designers just announced a limited production run of these unique and fluffy lamps—read on for more details and to see the cloud come alive. Floating Cloud is the latest iteration of an ongoing collaboration between Richard Clarkson Studio’s cloud-themed designs and Crealev’s innovative levitation technology. Made from PETG and hypoallergenic polyester fiber, the fluffy cloud-like mass floats approximately 2.75 inches off its base using magnetic levitation. The Cloud is entirely wireless and the base is powered with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. The cloud spins and bobs side-to-side for a “more realistic atmospheric experience,” while hidden sound-reactive RGB LEDs create the powerful illusion of a storm cloud with lightning. To reduce weight and size, the Floating Cloud does not include a speaker, however it will react to existing sound systems and voices. The Cloud flashes to the beat of the music in four different styles using an embedded microphone. An infrared remote controls a range of ambient lamp modes from white to colored versions. Related: This water-filled lamp makes it rain in your home “The Cloud is held in place using both rare earth magnets, electromagnets, and a location sensor,” write Richard Clarkson Studio. “There is a discrete infrared locating beam in the center of the Cloud, which, if obstructed by an object (such as a hand) will result in the Cloud “falling off” it’s levitating balance point. In such an event the Cloud has a soft felt bottom to cushion the fall. To return the Cloud to its floating position, use your fingers to pry the Cloud off the base and with two hands hold the Cloud roughly in position, slowly move the Cloud from side to side until you feel it ‘lock’ in place.” The studio has released a limited 100-unit production run of the Floating Cloud, available on their website for $4,620 USD . + Richard Clarkson Studio

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Floating Cloud lamp adds levitating magic to any room

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