The Green Deserts: New planting techniques for tree cultivation in desertified environments to face climate change.
Why this initiative?
The environmental conditions of the Iberian Peninsula, (high temperatures, poor soils, high radiation, high evaporation and low rainfall) seriously limit the success of reforestation. Furthermore, irrigation is not a viable solution in most Mediterranean areas. Water scarcity in the soil leads to hydric stress in plants, that accelerates the desertification process. All of these factors restrict the survival of tree seedlings.
Project areas: 1) San Isidro, 2) Riofrío de Aliste, 3) Matallana, 4) San Mateo de Gállego, 5) Viladecans-Sant Boi de Llobregat.
Combat climate change by reforesting 63 hectares in 5 Spanish provinces that are characterised by dry areas, with different climates, types of soil, land use and native species.
Demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of large-scale application of an innovative technology for planting trees in desertified, poor and/or rocky areas with the Groasis Waterboxx (WB).
Disseminate and communicate the concept of this technology to be implemented as a tool for reforestation and fight against the disastrous effects of climate change.
Monitoring and control:
A methodology was developed to monitor survival rates, growth and the frequency of data collection, such as soil and water temperature, humidity, etc.
Monitoring of survival has also been carried out through UAV (drones) with optimized sensors to capture longitudes of visible and nearby infrared rays. The obtained results were similar to the other monitoring methods applied, although the use of UAV reduces the costs of sampling.
Results and conclusions:
The average survival rate of the WB in the tested areas is approx. 80%, while the average survival rate of the control population is between 5-20%.
The application of the WB is crucial in the first year for survival and consolidation of the tree and its roots in the soil.
High quality saplings, appropriate field management and proper maintenance are also essential to guarantee success and long-term growth.
The project has led to a significant and visible increase in biodiversity in the reforested areas.
Stakeholders involved recommend further investigation of the WB in even more extreme climates and a wider variety of applications.
Costs of reforestation with the WB varied significantly between types of terrains. Plantation and maintenance with WB in flat lands only represent an increase of approx. 5% compared to traditional methods of reforestation. However, reforestation of mountainous areas, implies considerably higher costs due to more labour and logistical difficulties.
Although very effective in terms of survival rates of tree population, the WB is still too expensive to be viable.