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

Trees to grow on the balconies of Pendas timber high-rise in Toronto

August 3, 2017 by  
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A new kind of “vertical forest” has been envisioned for Toronto where trees would grow on every balcony. Architecture firm Penda teamed up with Canadian company Timber to design the Toronto Tree Tower, an 18-story mixed-use tower covered in greenery and built of cross-laminated timber. The large and modular balconies are staggered to look like branches of a tree and to optimize views for every resident. Designed to appear as a giant tree in the city, the Toronto Tree Tower is covered in plants and greenery and clad in wooden facade panels. The tower’s modular cross-laminated timber units would be prefabricated and assembled off-site, and then transported and stacked around the building’s trunk-like central core. The building would comprise 4,500 square meters of apartments as well as a cafe, children’s daycare center, and community workshops. Related: China’s first vertical forest is rising in Nanjing “Our cities are a assembly of steel, concrete and glass,” said Penda partner Chris Precht, according to Dezeen . “If you walk through the city and suddenly see a tower made of wood and plants, it will create an interesting contrast. The warm, natural appearance of wood and the plants growing on its facade bring the building to life and that could be a model for environmental friendly developments and sustainable extensions of our urban landscape.” + Penda Via Dezeen

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Trees to grow on the balconies of Pendas timber high-rise in Toronto

Giant sequoia skyscrapers designed to keep rotted trees standing

May 5, 2017 by  
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Modernization has harmed giant sequoias: not only have they been cut down in groves, but climate change has diminished their lifespan. Four designers in South Korea want to help preserve the trees’ legacy with a skyscraper called Tribute: The Monument of Giant , that could be tucked inside hollowed-out trunks, helping to keep trees with rotted heartwood from crashing down. The skyscraper would allow a visitor to feel small inside the vastness of a giant sequoia, while also offering education about the natural wonders. Ko Jinhyeuk, Cheong Changwon, Cho Kyuhyung, and Choi Sunwoong believe in the past, human desires and development clashed with the natural world. They said nature’s response is the natural disasters that wreak havoc throughout the world. They pointed to deforestation as both a cause of such disasters and “one of the worst crimes on nature .” Earning an honorable mention in the 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition , they offered up an answer. Their skyscraper is enveloped inside a dying tree in a bid to help keep it standing. Related: Incredible farming skyscraper could fight poverty and feed the world Although giant sequoias can be over 300 feet tall, with diameters between 20 and 26 feet, their roots often aren’t deep, so when their heartwood – what the designers described as a structural backbone – starts to rot, the weight of the trees can cause them to topple over. A skyscraper nestled inside could prevent this ending. “This project attempts to show a new architectural approach to human coexistence with nature,” the architects said in their design statement. They said their skyscraper, inside the empty void of a giant sequoia, wouldn’t hinder the breathtaking beauty of the tree. The building would then become “active as an artificial organ to replace the trunks rotten away.” Platforms inside the tree would offer opportunities for laboratories, exhibitions, education, and photo opportunities on observation decks. A lattice-like cage would comprise an outer casing that appears to blend in with the tree. Via eVolo and Dezeen Images via eVolo

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Giant sequoia skyscrapers designed to keep rotted trees standing

Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

March 23, 2017 by  
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Beijing’s pollution problem is no secret – earlier this year the city even created an environmental police squad in a bid to stop smog . Now, the nearby province of Hebei  – which contributes to Beijing’s smog with it’s heavy industry economy – is taking some creative new steps to combat the dangerous health risk that kills millions of people each year. The government is turning to nature to create a “green necklace” of trees and green belts as a natural way to fight pollution. People have recently pointed fingers at Hebei’s heavy industry as a source for some of Beijing’s hazardous pollution . The city has suffered from numerous smog outbreaks, often during the winter, according to Reuters. So the Hebei government announced this week both they and Beijing will plant trees and use wetlands and rivers to create a green necklace to protect the major global city. In a website notice, the government said it will increase forest coverage and set up green belts with the help of river systems, farms, mountains, and wetlands near Beijing. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working Transportation rules for Beijing and border areas are also part of the plan, which according to Reuters is part of a government effort to integrate the city, Hebei, and Tianjin, a major port city just southeast of Beijing. What have been described as fortress economies in the area could have prompted a race to the bottom in environmental law enforcement, according to Reuters. The cross-regional plan could also help address overpopulation – around 22 million people currently live in Beijing – by trying to limit urban development on the city’s borders. Beijing also plans to move some industries and “non-capital functions” out to Hebei, hoping such moves will also help cut pollution and congestion. Limited coal consumption is another piece of the strategy to clear the skies over Beijing, and the city just decommissioned the last coal-fired power plant earlier in March. Via Reuters Images via Bert Oostdijk on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree

February 1, 2017 by  
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The Japanese reverence for nature has been well established, especially in the world of design. However, if anyone still has doubts, they should take a stroll through the Kayashima train station in Neyagawa, a northeastern suburb of Osaka. The train station was carefully constructed around a massive camphor tree that has stood on the site for 700 years. The Kayashima Station opened in 1910 and was built next to the large tree , whose exact age goes back before local records. As the local population began to grow, it became clear that the station would need to be upgraded. In 1972, plans were approved to expand the site and, according to Spoon and Tamago , those plans called for the tree to be cut down to make space. Related: Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung Although the history of the train station’s upgrades is a matter of records, there are multiple stories behind the tree’s intact presence today. Some say that it was indeed the Japanese respect for nature that saved the tree from being chopped down . Yet, others say it was nothing more than pure superstition. Apparently, the tree had long been associated with a local shrine and deity, and its impending demise caused quite the uproar by the local community. Stories began to swirl that the tree was also angry and would curse anyone that dared to cut it down with bad luck. Whatever the case, station officials were persuaded to keep the tree, and ended up incorporating it into a new elevated platform . The construction was completed in 1980, and features a large hole cut into the roof of the platform where the tree majestically sticks out over the roof. Just to be on the safe side, the officials surrounded the base of the tree with a small shrine. Via Oddity Central Lead photo via Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei . Additional photography via Studio Ohana.

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Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree

Iconic 100-year-old tunnel tree in California succumbs to winter storm

January 11, 2017 by  
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The Pioneer Cabin Tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park , California recently succumbed to a winter storm, breaking the hearts of treehuggers everywhere. The majestic sequoia tree , which was tunneled sometime in the 1880’s to allow thousands of people to pass beneath it, crashed down over the weekend. Calaveras Big Trees Association wrote in a January 8 Facebook post , “The Pioneer Cabin tree has fallen! This iconic and still living tree – the tunnel tree – enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it.” Trees have died in the tunneling process, such as Yosemite’s Wawona Tunnel Tree, which was carved in 1881 but fell in 1969. In contrast to the Yosemite landmark which inspired it, the Pioneer Cabin Tree still showed signs of life. Related: More than 100 million California trees dead due to drought Park volunteer Jim Allday said people walked beneath the tree on Sunday morning, but around 2PM local time the tree fell and “shattered” when it hit the ground. Jim’s wife Joan, also a volunteer, told SFGate, “It was barely alive, there was one branch alive at the top. But it was very brittle and starting to lift.” Way back in 1990, interpretive specialist Wendy Harrison wrote in a Calaveras Big Trees State Park guide , “The pioneer cabin tree was chosen because of its extremely wide base and large fire scar. A few branches bearing green foliage tell us that this tree is still managing to survive.” Harrison described how Calveras Big Trees State Park used to be a popular tourist destination until the roads to Yosemite were improved, and the Calaveras park tried to lure tourists back by carving the Pioneer Cabin tree in the late 1800’s. According to SFGate, cars were once allowed to drive beneath the Pioneer Cabin Tree, but more recently the park only allowed people to pass under on foot. Via Gizmodo and SFGate Images via Wikimedia Commons and Jim Allday on Facebook

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Iconic 100-year-old tunnel tree in California succumbs to winter storm

German forester says trees are social beings with friends and personalities

January 4, 2017 by  
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A German forester said in a recent interview that trees are social beings that have friends and their own personality. Author of The Hidden Life of Trees , Peter Wohlleben shared with Yale Environment 360 fascinating stories of relationships between different trees he has observed. His revelation of their inner lives may be vital for the battle against climate change . We rarely attribute feelings to trees, but Wohlleben does so without hesitation. He spun compelling tales to illustrate why he says trees are sentient. For example, he said in about one in 50 cases, trees form special friendships, such as the one he glimpsed between two beeches. He told Yale Environment 360, “Each one was growing its branches turned away from the other rather than toward each other, as is more usually the case. This kind of partnership is well known to foresters. They know that if you see such a couple, they are really like a human couple; you have to chop down both if you chop one down, because the other will die anyway.” Related: Trees form special bonds with “friends and family” Trees send signals to warn others of dangerous insects, and pass along food to nearby sick trees. Wohlleben describes an instance of trees keeping each other alive: “This one beech tree was cut four to 500 years ago by a charcoal maker, but the stump is still alive – we found green chlorophyll under the thick bark,” he said. “The tree has no leaves to create sugars, so the only explanation is that it has been supported by neighboring trees for more than four centuries.” He has heard similar stories from other foresters. Some people have criticized Wohlleben for attaching emotional language to trees, but it’s all part of his strategy to help people view trees as living beings instead of commodities. Sustainable forest conservation is crucial in a changing, hot world, and Wohlleben eschews heavy machinery and insecticides, instead hand-harvesting trees and hauling them via horses. He cautioned against the trend of “indiscriminately cutting timber ,” which weakens ecosystems and the trees’ “social structures.” You can read the full interview here . You can also find Wohlleben’s book on Amazon or at your local bookstore. Via Yale Environment 360 Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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German forester says trees are social beings with friends and personalities

Off-grid Utah home nestled inside a natural cave-like opening

January 4, 2017 by  
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The word ‘incredible’ does not begin to encompass the awesomeness of this Utah abode, hidden in the side of a cliff. Built in 1986, Cliff Haven is an off-grid dream come true , and it’s for sale. A closed auction invites bidders to imagine living right in the heart of one of America’s most dramatic canyons, amid orange-hued bluffs and tumbleweeds aplenty. With all the amenities needed to thrive (not just survive) off the grid , the Cliff Haven will make a perfect home for someone looking to escape America’s recent chaos without actually having to leave the country. The unique home sits on 12 acres of land, situated 20 minutes outside of Monticello, Utah, in the scenic Montezuma Canyon, and the home is entirely self-sufficient . Cliff Haven spans 2,100 square feet of indoor living space within its rectangular footprint, including three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a three-car garage. From the outside, the home appears to sink into the cliffside itself, as it was constructed within an existing natural cave-like opening. Behind the home, a tunnel has been dug out to provide natural air circulation and an outlet for rainwater to run off. The tunnel doubles as a fire escape as well. Related: These 6 extraordinary cliffside homes will give you chills In addition to just looking downright cool, Cliff Haven features all the technical amenities necessary for supporting life off the grid. A solar power system with 120-volt current charges a battery system, and the home is also equipped with a backup generator for emergencies. A private well supplies water for use inside the home while two 2,000-gallon water tanks collect and store rainwater for other uses. The property has a mature orchard, vineyard, and garden – so the potential irrigation applications are plentiful. If you’re tempted to bid on Cliff Haven and finally getting away from it all, head to the property’s website to check out the full video tour. Then, mark your calendar for January 21, when the closed auction will take place. + Utah Cliff House Via New Atlas Images via Utah Cliff House

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Off-grid Utah home nestled inside a natural cave-like opening

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