Over the past few weeks we have repeatedly been asked one very good question: "Are you creating plantations (monocultures) of uniform tree species or trying to restore ecosystems?"
The importance of this question cannot be overstated. There is a world of difference between just planting trees and restoring entire ecosystems. Monocultures find their use in agriculture. Planting a monoculture means planting a single crop that requires much human input to be sustained in the long run. Monocultures are susceptible to diseases, pests, pathogens and adverse environmental conditions. Monocultures of trees provide little resources for wildlife and exist for one purpose: further harvesting of trees.
Ecosystems, on the other hand, are communities. They include microbes, fungi, animals small and big, and many different types of vegetation, all interacting together and with their environment (soil, water, air). Ecosystems work because the existence of one species enables other species to thrive. Ecosystems create a balance in the environment and ensure long-term viability and sustainability of the area restored.
That is why at BioCarbon Engineering, we are focused on ecosystem restoration as the driving goal of the technology and hope that this approach will become a standard tool that forest restoration organizations will be able to use when it is the right tool for the right location and conditions.
Of course, understanding the local biodiversity requirements is central to our success and we are working in partnership with local ecosystem experts in three of our destination countries to develop a biodiversity quotient that will drive selection of a variety of species appropriate for those locations. Together with tree seeds, we hope to seed in other species including micro-organisms and fungi to improve the soil quality and ensure long-term sustainability of our efforts.
Creating an ecosystem is not a trivial task. There are a lot of things to consider in the selection of species including the biodiversity and the quality of the soil matrix, location, water scarcity etc. But the result is worth the effort. Recent studies have shown that a restored jungle in Brazil that would normally take some 50 years to return to a near-natural state can be restored to the same state in about 7 years by seeding in additional species to increase the biodiversity. We are already thinking about how to help with that task which could cover millions of hectares throughout the Amazon basin.
What do you think we should certainly include in our new ecosystems? Feel free to comment on this post or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!