Dealing with drought: How fog collectors water trees in Spain | Spain

as summer fires continues to destroy vast areas of forests in Spain, France And Portugal, drought is afflicting Europe and the UK, leaving tens of thousands of acres at risk of desertification, and some scientists are busy collecting fog.

Supported by the European Union neplas life project (Nepal are Spanish for fog) Fog collectors are used in Gran Canaria in the Spanish Canary Islands, and Portugal, to improve degraded landscapes and reforest.

Fog collectors – panels of plastic nets set up in the wind’s path – do exist but have never been used efficiently, says Vicenç Carabasa, the project’s lead scientist, who works at the Center for Environmental Research and Forest Applications (Creaf), a general audience. Research Institute of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. As the wind blows the mist through the net, water droplets collect and fall into the containers below.

When the wind blows the mist through the mesh, water droplets are collected.
When the wind blows the mist through the mesh, water droplets are collected. Photo: Courtesy of Life Nieblas

“The fog set is particularly applicable in the restoration of the Canary Islands” lorsilva [laurel forests]Water droplets from the fog condense on the shiny, waxy leaves of trees. “The system allows seedlings to thrive until they are mature enough to pick up water themselves,” says Carabasa. lorsilva It is a subtropical rainforest inhabited by evergreen species, though not necessarily the familiar laurel trees found in parks and gardens.

To work well, fog collectors need both fog and wind, which are the conditions found in the Canaries and Portugalbut to a lesser extent in the Mediterranean, where forest fires and desertification are a growing problem.

“We are still trying to figure out the optimal conditions for fog collectors to operate,” says Carabasa, who adds that lorsilva Restoration can help replenish the aquifers that are under constant pressure in the Canaries.

In addition to the Canary Islands, where Creaf works with the local authority of Gran Canaria, the public company Gesplan, which runs the project, and several research institutes and other public organizations, the technology will be tested in marine areas around Barcelona and El. Bruc municipality in northern Catalonia, destroyed by a massive fire in 2015.

In Gran Canaria, the goal is to capture 215,000 liters of fog and dew water annually for re-breeding 35 hectares (86 acres) with 20,000 laurel trees in Doramas forest, an area that is highly at risk of desertification as a result of fires. Reforestation will be carried out using typical native species lorIsilvaincluding Candlebury Myrtle (Merika Vaia)And the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) and barbusano (Apollonius Barbogana).

Hillside fog collectors in Gran Canaria help restore the Loriselva Forest in areas at risk of desertification.
Hillside fog collectors in Gran Canaria help restore the Loriselva Forest in areas at risk of desertification. Photo: Courtesy of Life Nieblas

Another device being tested along with mist collectors is the “cocoon,” a biodegradable cake-shaped container made of recycled cardboard that surrounds the hole where the seedlings are grown and can hold 25 liters of water. It provides water and shelter for the seedlings, at least during their first year, which is usually the most important.

The lid reduces evaporation loss from the pot, and the cocoon protects the seedlings from small herbivores. The cocoon is buried in the ground and first filled with water by hand, then with rainwater, and in the Canary Islands and Portugal with water from fog collectors.

Cocoons were tested in Spain, Italy and Greece, where they were planted in different soil types and climates along with the control group grown in the traditional way. Both groups were initially provided with the same amount of water and no further watering, with seedlings monitored over the course of two years. Compared with conventional cultivation systems, cocoons increased the survival rate of seedlings, especially under dry growing conditions.

The cocoon can hold 25 liters of water and also provides shelter for the seedlings.
The cocoon can hold 25 liters of water and also provides shelter for the seedlings. Photo: Courtesy of Life Nieblas

Shown seedlings planted with cocoons The survival rate is close to 60%.compared to 40% for those grown by conventional methods. holm oak reply (Quercus ilex), One of the main native species, it was particularly positive in terms of survival and growth rate.

The cocoon was developed by the Dutch company Wildlife It is used worldwide, but the Green Link project, operated by Creaf and its partners as part of the Life Nieblas project, focuses on the cultivation of organic almonds in Almeria, as well as reforestation schemes in Valencia, Alicante, Catalonia, Italy and Greece.

With severe weather likely to lead to more fires, it is hoped that these technologies will speed up the decades-long process of reforestation.

“We are approaching reforestation in a more active and dynamic way, and we are working in areas that are particularly vulnerable to climate change and desertification,” says Carabasa.

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