Growing forests in the desert
Israeli environmental scientists plant hardy trees meant to improve air quality and provide renewable fuel, using ‘unusable’ land and water.
Leave it to Israeli scientists to figure out a way of growing trees in the barren sands of the Arava Desert.
The trees aren’t just meant to look pretty. This pollution-reducing forest planted over the summer is soaking up harmful excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing beneficial oxygen. Another “green” bonus is that the trees are nurtured with recycled sewage water and saltwater.
The project is a research collaboration between Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Science, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy. The Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea is financing the study, which is outlined in an article soon to appear in the European Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology.
The environmentalists involved are hopeful that the project will not only help reduce humanity’s carbon footprint but will also demonstrate how all countries could establish a local plant species on land thought unusable, in order to improve air quality. India, central Asia and Africa in particular have large swaths of such land available, including the vast Sahara Desert.
Once the trees are mature, it’s possible that they could become a renewable source of biofuel to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. This is another area of great interest to Israel and just about every other country on the planet.