GREEN LINKLife+ projectsJul 2016 to Mar 2020

Restore desertified areas with an innovative tree growing method across the Mediterranean border to increase resilience

In the Mediterranean area, the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly perceptible and severe. Many semi-arid regions are suffering significant declines in water availability and temperature increases. This has led to faster desertification and more forest fires. It is necessary to implement adaptation measures aimed at reducing the vulnerability of these ecosystems and strengthening their resilience. 

Introduction

The general objective of this ambitious project is to demonstrate an innovative growing method in desertified areas where the failure rate of restoration can reach 70%. The idea of replacing irrigation by using ‘water buckets’ to plant trees was tested in the recent LIFE The Green Deserts. The plastic recipient proved to work well in several dry Spanish regions. However, production and planting costs were deemed too high to be viable in intensive reforestation activities.

This followup project aims to build upon these lessons by introducing the Cocoon. Made out of (recycled) carton, it is very water-efficient, low-cost and 100% biodegradable and has shown survival rates of 90% in trials without irrigation. 

The project intends to:

  1. Demonstrate that the Mediterranean can combat climate change with an effective tool through 6 trials in 3 different countries suffering from desertification. 
  2. Demonstrate the economic feasibility of an improved and more sustainable technology to plant trees without the use of irrigation.
  3. Design specific ecological interventions (study of assisted migration): adaptation to climate change demands selection of indigenous and resilient species that will survive in the predicted bioclimates for 2050-2100.
  4. Integrate novel methodologies to measure biodiversity, soil carbon stock, soil loss and human well-being in the mid-term, while allowing assessment of climate change impact and resilience in the future. This project contributes towards European climate policies.
  5. Map ecosystem services at landscape level to improve adaptation strategies: better understanding of positive outputs from the project helps to contribute to future scaling and policy making.
  6. Replicate the project experience already during the project by actively engaging stakeholders (research, SMEs, NGOs, governments & local communities) in order to share methods and results for uptake across Southern-Europe.