Photo: Groasis, Waterboxx
It's often the case that areas wracked by deforestation or degradation, whether as a result of logging, mining, or clear-cutting, can be tricky to replant. Getting trees to grow after the soil has been dug-up, altered, or covered in rubble often seems like a lost cause -- and is treated as such by companies responsible for the mess. Dutch inventor Pieter Hoff, however, believes he's come up with a solution for reforesting degraded, eroded, and water-scarce areas. Called the Waterboxx, it's a reusable device that sits on the topsoil, and when a seedling is placed inside it helps the roots grow stronger and deeper than it would otherwise. Hoff explained to me how his invention works at this year's Poptech conference (video after the jump):
Mimicking the process of a tree's seed passed through the digestive tract of a bird and distributed in its excrement, the Waterboxx forces the seed to sprout a certain kind of root -- called a radical root -- that grows stronger and deeper than would otherwise grow if the same seed was planted underneath the topsoil in a conventional manner, Hoff says. It traps condensation much the way bird dung does, helping the seed to grow in arid climes. The process looks something like this:
And here, Hoff discusses why he feels the Waterboxx is so important.
Hoff's device is already being employed to help reforest mined-out areas in Spain, and to help regrow plants in water-stressed California wine country. It was initially designed to help trees grow in arid, eroded, or desert areas -- which makes me a tad nervous, considering the law of unintended consequences and all (sometimes deserts need to remain deserts, and mass application of this device could lead to geoengineering entire climates) ... But as a whole, it's a novel idea, and a good way to reforest degraded areas.
Here's another quick overview of how the whole process works from beginning to end:
Find more information on the project at Groasis.