New York Citys street trees have unique stories to tell

October 12, 2020 by  
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It’s been called a concrete jungle, but New York City is covered in trees. There are almost 700,000 street trees surrounded by the ultra-urban environment of NYC, and each one has its own story. One photographer decided to capture the spontaneous stewardship that occurs with these trees on the streets of New York every day. In a new photographic series, Matthew Jensen hopes to show everyone a little “Tree Love.” Jensen started noticing how the residents of New York care for their street trees as he walked around all five boroughs that make up the city. He began to observe how each tree was a little bit different and how many hands have helped care for each of these trees. Related: Check out Glasir, the tree-shaped urban farming solution Homemade tree guards, hand-lettered signs, decorations, ornaments, bird feeders and trinkets of all kinds can be spotted on the trees as you walk the streets of New York. Every little token is evidence that the residents of New York have taken it upon themselves to give personal care and attention to the hardy trees that share the streets with them. Jensen spent three years photographing the trees and the examples of human care that surround them. He ended up taking thousands of photos, fascinated with the subject and with the way each tree ends up becoming unique and individual thanks to those who live and work around it. “Old growth, self-planted, stunted, scarred, broken, coppiced, blighted, blight-resistant, rare, over-pruned, each tree exhibits time and circumstance in its own way,” Jensen said. “And tree beds are as equally idiosyncratic with homemade tree guards, hand drawn signs, unique plant and flower combinations, decorations and ornaments, benches, birdfeeders, and more often than not, too much garbage .” The final collection, titled Tree Love: Street Trees and Stewardship in NYC, is 75 images of street trees. Each one tells its own amazing story and is a powerful reminder than human beings and nature need each other. Street trees and city dwellers coexist in New York; in a way, they depend on each other. With a little more tree love around the world, everyone can do their part to help heal the planet. + Matthew Jensen Images via Matthew Jensen

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New York Citys street trees have unique stories to tell

Alternatives to Tree Removal

October 1, 2020 by  
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Homeowners remove trees for many reasons, but there are often … The post Alternatives to Tree Removal appeared first on Earth 911.

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Alternatives to Tree Removal

5 cozy getaway cabins that are perfect for fall

September 1, 2020 by  
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Get away from it all and enjoy the beauty of fall in an Airbnb cabin. You can surround yourself in nature while you stay in a tiny cabin, or book a luxurious solar-powered cabin with all the bells and whistles. Airbnb is is a treasure trove full of eco-friendly getaway cabins that let you get off the grid and escape from it all. Eco-cottage in New York This beautiful, modern cottage is surrounded by tall trees and greenery. It has two bedrooms and one bathroom. Both bedrooms have queen-sized beds, and this cottage is full of great amenities. Not only is there Wi-Fi on the property, but there’s also a laptop workstation that is comfy and quiet. This is a single-level home with no stairs, and private parking is available. The spacious kitchen has all the extras: coffee maker, dishwasher and microwave. There’s a beautiful outdoor area with a grill, too. Related: Top fall camping destinations throughout the US This is an owner-built structure in a location that is perfect for getting out and enjoying nature. The cottage is surrounded by trails and breathtaking scenery that honors the beauty of the natural world. Rock Rest eco-cabin in Colorado This cabin in Colorado has a truly unique look because of the stone supports and the multicolored wood planks used to assemble it. The structure has a distinctly modern appearance that is also rustic inside and out. The owners wanted to create a retreat that paid homage to the environment, and they succeeded. The elevated cabin was built with the goal to leave the surrounding nature as undisturbed as possible . Inside, you’ll find stainless steel appliances, open shelving, concrete counters, a tankless water heater and a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system that provides water for the trees. Other creature comforts include a smart TV, a washer and dryer and a large kitchen decked out with appliances for cooking delicious meals. The eco-cabin has one bathroom and one bedroom. The bedroom features a twin bed elevated above a queen-sized bed. The living room includes a day bed, and the porch also features a twin-sized bed swing, perfect for napping. Solar-powered cabin in Maine Enjoy a private getaway tucked among towering trees and surrounded by the sounds of wilderness in this solar-powered cabin in Maine . This is an off-grid retreat nestled among mountains and lakes. Tuck the kids into a handcrafted bunk bed while you rest on the double bed and enjoy views of the 33 acres of wooded hills that surround this space. There is a separate composting toilet and plenty more eco-friendly perks onsite. Treat yourself to locally roasted, organic coffee beans while you cook in the wood stove. The water is pure mountain water from the onsite well, and all of the electricity is provided by solar energy. The shower room is just a three-minute walk away. Get outdoors to take advantage of the soaking pools, dipping pools, fire circle and hammock — not to mention all those acres of natural beauty. Off-grid luxury cabin in Colorado Step outside and take in views of the incredible Colorado mountains in this off-grid, two-bedroom cabin . The cabin also has two bathrooms and luxury features everywhere you look. There is a separate suite, a laptop workspace, a cozy fireplace and of course Wi-Fi if you aren’t ready to completely unplug. There is a great selection of children’s books and toys, making it ideal for the whole family, plus on-premises parking. Related: A socially distanced vacation in eastern Oregon The Colorado wilderness itself is one of the main features of this eco-cabin. There are breathtaking vistas in all directions and a natural hot spring nearby. Fern Valley eco-cabin in New York This modern tiny cabin was inspired by Swedish architecture in a classic, lean-to style. The cabin may be small, but one whole wall is made up of windows so you are always surrounded by the glory of nature, even when you are indoors. This rugged cabin does not have modern features like running water (from November to April), electricity or Wi-Fi. Here, you can connect deeply with nature and truly live off of the grid. You can enjoy all 12 acres of the private property, including a pond, during your stay. Although it lacks water and electricity, the cabin does have some off-grid amenities, including a coffee maker and an outdoor grill. A queen-sized bed greets you at the end of a long day filled with adventure. Escape this fall With extra care and planning, you can enjoy some rest and relaxation this fall in an eco-cabin surrounded by autumnal beauty. Be sure to check out the advice on travel precautions from the CDC and WHO before taking off for your next socially distant getaway. Images courtesy of Airbnb

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5 cozy getaway cabins that are perfect for fall

Redwoods, condor sanctuary are damaged in California wildfires

August 28, 2020 by  
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The beloved giants of Big Basin Redwoods State Park have been facing massive wildfires in California. Fortunately, many survived, proving how tough and resilient these trees can be, although there has still been considerable damage. Meanwhile, a condor sanctuary has also been devastated, with experts fearing the loss of some of these critically endangered birds. Big Basin’s redwoods have stood in the Santa Cruz Mountains for more than 1,000 years. In 1902, the area became California’s first state park. The trees are a combination of old-growth and second-growth redwood forest, mixed with oaks, conifer and chaparral. The park is a popular hiking destination with more than 80 miles of trails, multiple waterfalls and good bird-watching opportunities. Related: Arctic wildfires rage through Siberia Early reports of the Santa Cruz Lightning Complex fires claimed the redwood trees were all gone. But a visitor on Tuesday found most trees still intact, though the park’s historic headquarters and other structures had burned in the fires. “But the forest is not gone,” Laura McLendon, conservation director for the Sempervirens Fund, told KQED . “It will regrow. Every old growth redwood I’ve ever seen, in Big Basin and other parks, has fire scars on them. They’ve been through multiple fires, possibly worse than this.” Scientists have done some interesting studies on redwoods, including one concluding that redwoods might be benefiting from climate change . A warming climate means less fog in northern California, which allows redwoods more sunshine and therefore more photosynthesis. Researchers have also looked into cloning giant redwoods, which could save the species if they burn in future fires. A sanctuary for endangered condors in Big Sur also suffered from the wildfires. Kelly Sorenson, executive director of Ventana Wildlife Society, which operates the sanctuary, watched in horror as fire took out a remote camera trained on a condor chick in a nest. Sorenson saw the chick’s parents fly away. “We were horrified. It was hard to watch. We still don’t know if the chick survived, or how well the free-flying birds have done,” Sorenson told the San Jose Mercury News. “I’m concerned we may have lost some condors. Any loss is a setback. I’m trying to keep the faith and keep hopeful.” The fate of at least four other wild condors who live in the sanctuary is also still unknown. Via CleanTechnica , EcoWatch and KQED Image via Anita Ritenour

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Redwoods, condor sanctuary are damaged in California wildfires

The daily life of a tree farmer with One Tree Planted

August 21, 2020 by  
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Trees make the world a better place for humans by providing shade, sequestering CO2 , intercepting airborne particles, aiding respiratory health and adding great beauty to this planet we call home. Because trees do so much for us, planting more of them is an eco-strategy touted by many environmental organizations. But what’s it really like spending your workday growing, planting and caring for trees? To find out, we talked to a Zach Clark-Lee, a professional tree farmer who works with the environmental charity One Tree Planted. Founded in 2014, One Tree Planted works on reforestation projects in North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Some of its goals are to restore forests after natural disasters, create jobs and enhance biodiversity . The organization figures that it costs approximately $1 to grow and plant a tree, from land prep to maintaining and monitoring the planted tree. So if you have a dollar, you can sponsor a tree through One Tree Planted’s website. Or learn more about planting some trees yourself. Related: Nonprofit plants 80,000 trees in Kenya and Rwanda Here’s what Clark-Lee had to say about working with One Tree Planted. Inhabitat: What and where is your job, and how did you become affiliated with One Tree Planted? Clark-Lee: I work for the Colorado State Forest Service Seedling Nursery in Fort Collins, Colorado as a tree farmer . I took a tour of the nursery while in school, and I immediately fell in love with their mission and passion. I started as a volunteer in 2014 for about 4-5 weeks and then was offered a seasonal position. One year later, I started training to become the container production supervisor. Now, this is not the only hat that I wear. I’m the volunteer coordinator for the nursery, a licensed drone flier, tree planter and tour guide. Giving tours is how I became affiliated with One Tree Planted. I connected with their mission and values right away and then started growing trees for their vast projects. I’ve gotten a significant number of trees in the ground by working with One Tree Planted and have connected with some fantastic people along the way. Inhabitat: What was your motivation behind getting involved in the industry? Clark-Lee: To be completely honest, my motivation at first was completely selfish. I just wanted to be able to work outside. The more I learned during my hands-on experience, the more I realized how important my work and the work of the nursery was. My motivation adapted quickly. While I still love the fact that I get to work outside, I’m driven by a purpose, a want and a need to make our world a better place. Ultimately, I want to ensure my kids and future generations all over the world have a thriving planet to call home. Inhabitat: How many trees do you cultivate yearly? Clark-Lee: We sell roughly 500,000 native trees , perennials, shrubs and grasses every year. These plants have so many different applications such as going to post-fire/flood affected areas, building habitats, erosion control, creating living snow fences and windbreaks and more. Inhabitat: What’s a typical day like for you? Clark-Lee: I arrive at 6:45 in the morning and get our crew rolling for the day. We may be seeding, transplanting, weeding or getting orders ready for distribution. Every day that I’m on the farm, I get to nurture our plants to help others and Mother Nature. The days are long, and sometimes more challenging than others, but I experience a constant rewarding feeling from my work. A feeling that makes me want to get up and do it again day after day. Home is an interesting concept for me. The nursery is really my second residence, and after a long day on the 130-acre farm, I get to go to my  actual  home and spend time with my family. Inhabitat: What happens after you’ve grown the trees, and where do they go? Clark-Lee: We grow and sell trees for many different reasons. Some of our plants are going to areas that may have been impacted by devastating fires or floods . Some may be for habitat rehabilitation and animal corridors that house birds, lions, bobcats, pollinators and more. We also have specific projects for a number of different conservation efforts, like helping reservations restore their land or helping farmers/landowners with windbreaks or living snow fences to better manage their properties. Inhabitat: Do you plant trees yourself? Why? Clark-Lee: Yes, we plant the trees ourselves, mainly to ensure the success, health and beauty of the tree planting. We want our plants to help Colorado and surrounding states be as healthy and prosperous as we all know they can be. We also plant species on our property for seed increase, when seed may be hard to get your hands on. Inhabitat: Where have you planted trees? Clark-Lee: I have started my own plantings on the “High Park” burn scar, just outside of Fort Collins. I saw this site and realized that not many people were planting there. So, I took it upon myself to change that. With the help of One Tree Planted, I was able to purchase the trees from the nursery and get started. Planting is a passion of mine, and I cannot wait for the pandemic to end so that I can return to the forest with my volunteers. Inhabitat: What wild animals have you seen in the field? Clark-Lee: I have seen amazing wildlife , like mountain lions, bobcats, eagles, hawks and owls. Inhabitat: What do you like the most about working in the industry? Clark-Lee: What I like most about working in the industry is the like-minded people I have the opportunity to connect with. Volunteers are truly a different type of breed — an amazing one! They are happy to get out in the hot sun and traverse all kinds of terrain just to put trees in the ground. Volunteers don’t do it for the money, they do it because they are passionate about the cause and want to help. Inhabitat: How long have you done this work, and how long do you plan to do it? Clark-Lee: I have been doing this work for almost 7 years now, and I don’t think I could be any happier doing anything else. I have been able to grow and plant trees for the world’s health and help others find their path in this industry. Inhabitat: What else should readers know about your work? Clark-Lee: Passion is the ultimate driver for my work. If you’re looking for ways to help fight climate change , or get involved in your own community, you can start with planting trees. Get out and volunteer for an hour or two, or 10 hours, or a whole week. Do it until passion slaps you across the face. You might discover something in you that you never knew you had. Inhabitat: What are your hopes for the future of forests, and how does your work contribute to that? Clark-Lee: I hope that I can pass my torch to the future generations with a smile and know that we are in safe hands. I hope that my passion rubs off on people from all walks of life. I want my work to instill hope in others. Trees are the answer, and don’t let anyone forget it. See professional tree planters in action in this video from One Tree Planted. + One Tree Planted Images via Jplenio , George Bakos and Siggy Nowak

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The daily life of a tree farmer with One Tree Planted

Investors say agroforestry isn’t just climate friendly — it’s profitable

August 10, 2020 by  
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Investors say agroforestry isn’t just climate friendly — it’s profitable Stephanie Hanes Mon, 08/10/2020 – 00:15 This story originally appeared in Mongabay and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration to strengthen coverage of the climate story. In the latter part of 2016, Ethan Steinberg and two of his friends planned a driving tour across the United States to interview farmers. Their goal was to solve a riddle that had been bothering each of them for some time. Why was it, they wondered, that American agriculture basically ignored trees? This was no esoteric inquiry. According to a growing body of scientific research, incorporating trees into farmland benefits everything from soil health to crop production to the climate. Steinberg and his friends, Jeremy Kaufman and Harrison Greene, also suspected it might yield something else: money. “We had noticed there was a lot of discussion and movement of capital into holistic grazing, no till, cover cropping,” Steinberg recalls, referencing some land- and climate-friendly agricultural practices that have been garnering environmental and business attention recently. “We thought, what about trees? That’s when a lightbulb went off.” The trio created Propagate Ventures , a company that offers farmers software-based economic analysis, on-the-ground project management and investor financing to help add trees and tree crops to agricultural models. One of Propagate’s key goals, Steinberg explained, was to get capital from interested investors to the farmers who need it — something he saw as a longtime barrier to such tree-based agriculture. Propagate quickly started attracting attention. Over the past two years, the group, based in New York and Colorado, has expanded into eight states, primarily in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. It is working with 20 farms. In late May, it announced that it had received $1.5 million in seed funding from Boston-based Neglected Climate Opportunities, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust. Fruit nut alley cropping in New York. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Propagate Ventures Close Authorship “My hope is that they can help farmers diversify their production systems and sequester carbon,” says Eric Smith, investment officer for the trust. “In a perfect world, we’d have 10 to 20 percent of U.S. land production in agroforestry.” For the past few years, private sector interest in “sustainable” and “climate-friendly” efforts has skyrocketed. Haim Israel, Bank of America’s head of thematic investment, suggested at the World Economic Forum earlier this year that the climate solutions market could double from $1 trillion today to $2 trillion by 2025. Flows to sustainable funds in the U.S. have been increasing dramatically, setting records even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the financial services firm Morningstar. While agriculture investment is only a small subset of these numbers, there are signs that investments in “regenerative agriculture,” practices that improve rather degrade than the earth, are also increasing rapidly. In a 2019 report , the Croatan Institute, a research institute based in Durham, North Carolina, found some $47.5 billion worth of investment assets in the U.S. with regenerative agriculture criteria. “The capital landscape in the U.S. and globally is really shifting,” says David LeZaks, senior fellow at the Croatan Institute. “People are beginning to ask more questions about how their money is working for them as it relates to financial returns, or how it might be working against them in the creation of extractive economies, climate change or labor issues.” Agroforestry , the ancient practice of incorporating trees into farming, is just one subset of regenerative agriculture, which itself is a subset of the much larger ESG, or Environmental, Social and Governance, investment world. But according to Smith and Steinberg, along with a small but growing number of financiers, entrepreneurs and company executives, it is one particularly ripe for investment. Although relatively rare in the U.S., agroforestry is a widespread agricultural practice across the globe. Project Drawdown, a climate change mitigation think tank that ranks climate solutions, estimates that some 1.6 billion acres of land are in agroforestry systems; other groups put the number even higher. And the estimates for returns on those systems are also significant, according to proponents. Ernst Götsch, a leader in the regenerative agriculture world, estimates that agroforestry systems can create eight times more profit than conventional agriculture. Harry Assenmacher, founder of the German company Forest Finance, which connects investors to sustainable forestry and agroforestry projects, said in a 2019 interview that he expects between 4 percent and 7 percent return on investments at least; his company already had paid out $7.5 million in gains to investors, with more income expected to be generated later. This has led to a wide variety of for-profit interest in agroforestry. There are small startups, such as Propagate, and small farmers, such as Martin Anderton and Jono Neiger, who raise chickens alongside new chestnut trees on a swath of land in western Massachusetts. In Mexico, Ronnie Cummins, co-founder and international director of the Organic Consumers Association, is courting investors for funds to support a new agave agroforestry project. Small coffee companies, such as Dean’s Beans , are using the farming method, as are larger farms, such as former U.S. vice president Al Gore’s Caney Fork Farms. Some of the largest chocolate companies in the world are investing in agroforestry. “We are indeed seeing a growing interest from the private sector,” says Dietmar Stoian, lead scientist for value chains, private sector engagement and investments with the research group World Agroforestry (ICRAF). “And for some of them, the idea of agroforestry is quite new.” Part of this, he and others say, is growing awareness about agroforestry’s climate benefits. Gains for the climate, too According to Project Drawdown, agroforestry practices are some of the best natural methods to pull carbon out of the air. The group ranked silvopasture , a method that incorporates trees and livestock together, as the ninth most impactful climate change solution in the world, above rooftop solar power, electric vehicles and geothermal energy. If farmers increased silvopasture acreage from 1.36 billion acres to 1.9 billion acres by 2050, Drawdown estimated carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced over those 30 years by up to 42 gigatons — more than enough to offset all carbon dioxide emitted by humans globally in 2015, according to NOAA  — and could return $206 billion to $273 billion on investment. Part of the reason that agroforestry practices are so climate friendly (systems without livestock, or “normal” agroforestry such as shade grown coffee, for example, are also estimated by Drawdown to return well on investment, while sequestering 4.45 tons of carbon per hectare per year) is because of what they replace. Photo of silvopasture system by Sid Brantley. Image via U.S.  National Agroforestry Center . Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Sid Brantley/U.S. National Agroforestry Center Close Authorship Traditional livestock farming, for instance, is carbon intensive. Trees are cut down for pasture, fossil fuels are used as fertilizer for feed, and that feed is transported across borders, and sometimes the world, using even more fossil fuels. Livestock raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), produce more methane than cows that graze on grass. A silvopasture system, on the other hand, involves planting trees in pastures — or at least not cutting them down. Farmers rotate livestock from place to place, allowing soil to hold onto more carbon. There are similar benefits to other types of agroforestry practices. Forest farming, for instance, involves growing a variety of crops under a forest canopy — a process that can improve biodiversity and soil quality, and also support the root systems and carbon sequestration potential of farms. A changing debate Etelle Higonnet, senior campaign director at campaign group Mighty Earth, says a growing number of chocolate companies have expressed interest in incorporating agroforestry practices — a marked shift from when she first started advocating for that approach. “When we first started talking to chocolate companies and traders about agroforestry, pretty much everybody thought I was a nutter,” she says. “But fast forward three years on and pretty much every major chocolate company and cocoa trader is developing an agroforestry plan.” What that means on the ground, though, can vary widely, she says. Most of the time a company’s sustainability department is pushing for agroforestry investment, not the C-suite. Some companies have committed to sourcing 100 percent of their cacao from agroforestry systems. Others are content with 5 percent of their cacao coming from farms that use agroforestry. In a perfect world, we’d have 10 to 20 percent of U.S. land production in agroforestry. What a company considers “agroforestry” also can be squishy, she points out — a situation that makes her and other climate advocates worry about companies using the term to “greenwash,” or essentially pretend to be environmentally friendly without making substantive change. “What is agroforestry?” says Simon Konig, executive director of Climate Focus North America. “There is no clear definition. There’s an academic, philosophical definition, but there’s not a practical definition, nothing that says, ‘It includes this many species.’ Basically, agroforestry is anything you want it to be, and anything you want to write on your brochure.” He says he has seen cases in South America where people have worked to transform degraded cattle ranches into cocoa plantations. They have planted banana trees alongside cocoa, which needs shade when young. But when the cocoa is five years old and requires more sun, the farmers take out the bananas. “They say, ‘it’s agroforestry,’” Konig says. “So there are misunderstandings — there are different objectives and standards.” He has been working to produce a practical agroforestry guide for cocoa and chocolate companies. One of the guide’s main takeaways, he says, is that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to agroforestry. It depends on climate, objectives, markets and all sorts of other variables. This is one of the reasons that agroforestry has been slow to gain investor attention, says LeZaks of the Croatan Institute. “There really aren’t the technical resources — the infrastructure, the products — that work to support an agroforestry sector at the moment,” LeZaks says. While agroforestry is seen as having significant potential for the carbon offset market, its variability makes it a more complicated agricultural investment. Another challenge to agroforestry investment is time. Tree crops take years to produce nuts, berries or timber. This can be a barrier for farmers, who often do not have extra capital to tie up for years. It also can turn off investors. “People are bogged down by business as usual,” says Stoian from World Agroforestry. “They have to report to shareholders. Give regular reports. It’s almost contradictory to the long-term nature of agroforestry.” This is where Steinberg and Propagate Ventures come in. The first part of the company’s work is to fully analyze a farmer’s operation, Steinberg says. It evaluates business goals, uses geographic information system (GIS) components to map out land, and determines the trees most appropriate for the particular agricultural system. With software analytics, Propagate predicts long-term cost-to-revenue and yields, key information for both farmers and possible private investors. After the analysis phase, Propagate helps implement the agroforestry system. It also works to connect third-party investors with farmers, using a revenue-sharing model in which the investor takes a percentage of the profit from harvested tree crops and timber. Additionally, Propagate works to arrange commercial contracts with buyers who are interested in adding agroforestry-sourced products to their supply chains. “Here’s an opportunity to work with farmers to increase profitability by incorporating tree crops into their operations in a way that’s context specific,” Steinberg says. “And it also starts addressing the ecological challenge that we face in agriculture and beyond.” This report is part of Mongabay’s ongoing coverage of trends in global agroforestry. View the full series here . Pull Quote In a perfect world, we’d have 10 to 20 percent of U.S. land production in agroforestry. Topics Food & Agriculture Forestry Forestry Reforestation Regenerative Agriculture Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of National Agroforestry Center Close Authorship

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Investors say agroforestry isn’t just climate friendly — it’s profitable

Planting tiny urban forests can boost biodiversity and fight climate change

August 7, 2020 by  
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Planting tiny urban forests can boost biodiversity and fight climate change Alex Thornton Fri, 08/07/2020 – 00:30 How much space do you think you need to grow a forest? If your answer is bigger than a couple of tennis courts, think again. Miniature forests are springing up on patches of land in urban areas around the world, often planted by local community groups  using a method inspired by Japanese temples. The idea is simple — take brownfield sites, plant them densely with a wide variety of native seedlings and let them grow with minimal intervention. The result, according to the method’s proponents , is complex ecosystems perfectly suited to local conditions that improve biodiversity, grow quickly and absorb more carbon dioxide. The Miyawaki method The method is based on the work of Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki . He found that protected areas around temples, shrines and cemeteries in Japan contained a huge variety of native vegetation that co-existed to produce resilient and diverse ecosystems. This contrasted with the conifer forests — non-indigenous trees grown for timber — that dominated the landscape. Miyawaki forests can grow into mature ecosystems in just 20 years — astonishingly fast when compared to the 200 years it can take a forest to regenerate on its own. His work developed into the Miyawaki method — an approach that prioritizes the natural development of forests using native species. Miyawaki forests can grow into mature ecosystems in just 20 years — astonishingly fast when compared to the 200 years it can take a forest to regenerate on its own. They act as oases for biodiversity, supporting up to 20 times as many species as non-native, managed forests. Local pollinators such as butterflies and bees, beetles, snails and amphibians are among the animals that thrive with a greater diversity of food and shelter. Greening urban spaces worldwide The popularity of Miyawaki forests is growing, with initiatives in India , the Amazon and Europe. Projects such as Urban Forests in Belgium and France, and Tiny Forest in the Netherlands, are bringing together volunteers to transform small patches of wasteland. Urban forests bring many benefits to communities beyond their impact on biodiversity. Green spaces can help to improve people’s mental health , reduce the harmful effects of air pollution , and even counter the phenomenon of heat islands in cities, where expanses of concrete and asphalt raise temperatures unnaturally high. Carbon sinks The potential for helping to combat climate change makes Miyawaki forests a particularly attractive option for many environmentalists. Reforestation is a key part of strategies to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, with initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge , Trillion Trees Vision and the World Economic Forum’s 1t.org project setting ambitious targets. It’s estimated that new or restored forests could remove up to 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050. If you have a patch of wasteland in your local community that is sitting idle, a Miyawaki forest could be one way of doing your bit to help the environment. However, not all forests are equally effective in sequestering carbon. Mature forests of native trees soak up much more carbon dioxide than the monoculture plantations that make up many reforestation projects. As scientists learn more about the role of other factors, such as carbon in the soil , it is increasingly clear that planting the right kind of trees matters as much as the number. Conservation groups stress that Miyawaki forests should not be seen as an alternative to protecting existing native forests. Small, unconnected wooded areas never can replace the large tracts of forest that are vital to so many species — and that remain under threat from commercial plantations and slash-and-burn farming. But if you have a patch of wasteland in your local community that is sitting idle, a Miyawaki forest could be one way of doing your bit to help the environment. Pull Quote Miyawaki forests can grow into mature ecosystems in just 20 years — astonishingly fast when compared to the 200 years it can take a forest to regenerate on its own. If you have a patch of wasteland in your local community that is sitting idle, a Miyawaki forest could be one way of doing your bit to help the environment. Topics Forestry Cities World Economic Forum Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An urban forest in Shirakawa-Go, Japan. Photo by Rap Dela Rea on Unsplash. Close Authorship

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Planting tiny urban forests can boost biodiversity and fight climate change

We Earthlings: Plant One Tree

August 4, 2020 by  
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Plant one tree and it will capture about 13 pounds … The post We Earthlings: Plant One Tree appeared first on Earth 911.

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We Earthlings: Plant One Tree

The future of organic coffee: Building a network of support for regenerative agriculture

July 30, 2020 by  
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The future of organic coffee: Building a network of support for regenerative agriculture Jean Orlowski Thu, 07/30/2020 – 02:00 Nearly a decade ago, as we took in the lush plant life, clean air and warm sunshine surrounding us during a vacation in Hawaii, my wife, Danielle, and I knew a life shift was happening. A connection to the land — this island — was built on that trip, leading us to relocate permanently to Captain Cook, Hawaii. It was there that we came across a six-acre Kona coffee farm that had fallen into neglect. Nurturing this farm back to life strengthened our relationship with the island, taught us the true meaning of sustainability and allowed us to become advocates for organic farming beyond our own acreage. Today Hala Tree Coffee Farm consists of nearly 100 acres, and we’ve built a network of like-minded coffee farmers looking to become fully organic. While organic processes may not change the taste of the coffee beans (the environment here takes the credit for that), the organic processes show respect to the land that produces them. We’re firm believers that authentic Kona coffee is organic and that shifting toward regenerative agriculture is vital. Globally, but especially on an island, just being “organic” is no longer enough.  Moving from ‘minimizing impact’ to regenerating  Our motivation to make a career out of farming stemmed from a love of the land. We wanted to work with this island, not take from it, and leave it even better than we found it. Learning the intricacies of Kona coffee farming from the ground up highlighted the need for organic practices early on. While sustainability is important no matter where you live, living on an island increases the urgency. Our soil, our trees and our water eventually connect to the ocean that surrounds Hawaii. While we want to care for the island itself, the consequences of not using organic practices can reach to the mainland United States and beyond, carried by the currents. Even small island farms leave a lasting effect — both positive and negative — on the environment globally. And because Hawaii must import large amounts of produce (resulting in 600,000 pounds of CO2 released into the atmosphere for each flight from San Francisco to Hawaii), regenerative agriculture is imperative for our state. One major way to do that is to shift the way farming is done, especially for key crops such as coffee. Until recently, Hawaii was the only U.S. state that grows coffee beans (California has just started), and Kona coffee is coveted around the world. The mix of rain, quality soil, sunshine and elevation on the island creates the perfect environment for farming coffee beans. The conditions truly can’t be reproduced elsewhere, and that’s why the Kona coffee farming community is passionate about the environment and our island. At Hala Tree, we focus on two key areas: our soil and our trees.  We focus on topsoil regeneration by using perennial peanuts as ground cover to nourish the soil and anchor it. Our farm, as with most coffee farms in Hawaii, covers sloped areas prone to runoffs. Ground cover is vital to stabilizing our soil; we focus on the regenerative piece by choosing materials that give back to the soil. During pruning and clipping seasons on the farm, everything cut from the trees is spread on top of the current soil throughout the farm. We also use natural fertilizer made from fish bones throughout the farm. Wildlife is also a consideration with ground cover; we must ensure that we are not restricting movement or harming native animals. These species are key to the land’s ability to regenerate, and we must work with them, not around or against.  New trees are continuously planted on the farm to boost carbon sequestration. We have about 100,000 trees under our management, each being carefully maintained with organic practices.  Part of our initiative to move toward regenerative agriculture is helping other local farmers obtain organic certification. This initial process can be time-consuming and cost-prohibitive for small farms; for example, the weed maintenance piece is a tall order in a wet, humid climate where plants grow at astounding speeds. By bringing more farms under our wing and helping them on the organic path, we aim to better equip the agriculture community to embrace regenerative farming.  What’s good for one is good for all  While smaller farms may have the most to gain from going organic, the upfront cost to earn that designation can be prohibitive. Materials, tools, processes and labor need to be accounted for, not to mention the cost of certification. Farms also must be fully organic for three years before a certification can be awarded, adding a time investment on top of cost. For a small farm with just a few acres, this may be impossible to achieve alone. In order to create more organic farms and better serve the planet, larger farms (and perhaps even corporate brands ) need to prioritize the sharing of resources and support. In order to create more organic farms and better serve the planet, larger farms (and perhaps even corporate brands) need to prioritize the sharing of resources and support.   Our own expansion as a company is partially fueled by mentoring other farms. The territory here can be difficult to work with, given the grades of hills and the need for special equipment. We help smaller farms by sharing resources and, in some cases, we manage their acreage to support their journey toward organic certification. Our partners either pay a fee or share a part of their harvest with us in exchange, making organic farming attainable while ensuring that they still see profit. It’s a form of regenerative agriculture itself: We’re investing in the community that invested in us, keeping everything local. Other types of agriculture are starting to use this model, and more need to follow. The wine industry is similar to coffee in terms of cultivation, harvest and processing. Established vineyards with organic certification can lift up neighboring vineyards and share their resources. When more organic wine enters the market, consumers are more likely to try it, which benefits the newly established organic farms and boosts the industry as whole. While new technology can help this process, machines can’t fully replace people or mimic the value of a strong, supportive network. That’s why we all need to work together. We hope to see farms of all kinds on the mainland and beyond consider the model we’ve created in Hawaii. We need more minds behind innovation in this area to continue growing and making regenerative practices accessible. While living on an island initially may have raised our sense of urgency for going organic, it’s no less imperative for our farming community in other U.S. states and around the world to shift their practices. While sustainability discussions can feel overwhelming and difficult, we have an opportunity in the agriculture community to show fellowship, support and positivity — and perhaps improve products and profits along the way. Pull Quote In order to create more organic farms and better serve the planet, larger farms (and perhaps even corporate brands) need to prioritize the sharing of resources and support. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Organics Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Hala Tree Coffee Farm owners Danielle and Jean Orlowski. Courtesy of Charla Photography Close Authorship

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The future of organic coffee: Building a network of support for regenerative agriculture

Natural pink walls make up this eco-friendly hotel in Oaxaca

July 7, 2020 by  
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Designed by studios Taller Lu’um and At-te, the Monte Uzulu boutique hotel in Oaxaca, Mexico has doors made from  local wood  and walls crafted with a combination of concrete, earth and natural lime. The name comes from the word gusulú, meaning “beginning” in the region’s indigenous Zapotec language. As the hotel resides in the small fishing village of San Agustinillo, the designers wanted to honor the land surrounding the site by modeling the hotel to be close to nature. The  Pacific Ocean  can be found just a short walk away from the property, and construction kept as many trees as possible intact to make less of an environmental impact. According to the architectural team, a roughly 1,000-year-old jungle surrounds the hotel, so respecting the trees became a pivotal part of the design plan. Related: Ancient Mayan-inspired Casa Merida operates off the grid in Mexico Monte Uzulu’s balance with nature shows in its construction materials, which include natural elements such as locally-sourced wood,  soil  and dried palm leaves. A pink rendering of earth, lime and natural pigment covers the concrete walls, applied by hand and palette knife. The open-sided structure, moveable wood walls and thatched roof are modeled after the palapa design that is native to this part of western  Mexico . This design promotes natural ventilation and less sun exposure, making it perfect for the area’s hot weather. Six rectangular structures with gabled roofs connect with a series of stairs, making up 11 guest suites and about 7,782 square feet of total area. Each room has a terrace overlooking the jungle and ocean, with interior  concrete  walls left exposed to match the concrete floors and fixtures. Local artisans crafted the furniture, such as shelves and bed frames, using local wood. Sustainability measures, including a  rainwater collection system , water recycling system, natural water pools and a biodigester to convert organic waste, are implemented to reduce the hotel’s environmental impact even further. + Monte Uzulu Via Dezeen

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Natural pink walls make up this eco-friendly hotel in Oaxaca

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