Tuesday, March 28, 2023

How Australia is fighting the climate crisis

aerial planting
How Australia is fighting the climate crisis

Red soil, scorching heat, devastating bushfires: Australia is the second driest continent after Antarctica. Large parts of the interior are hardly habitable. And climate change is happening. Environmentalists are trying to regenerate burned, ravaged landscapes.

Red sand in the middle of iconic rock blocks, endless outdoor landscapes, Uluru: Australia’s interior captivates and fascinates long-distance travelers from around the world. But for the country and its inhabitants, the arid center is a real challenge. Due to harsh living conditions, it is sparsely populated. According to a 2016 figure, 85 percent of Australians live within 50 kilometers of the coast. Because in the so-called outback, which makes up 70 percent of Australia, desert-like conditions with temperatures above 40 degrees can prevail.

That’s why environmentalists and companies are concerned with the question of whether the Red Continent can be at least partially green again by using modern technologies to avert the worst consequences of climate change. Droughts, devastating fires, record temperatures, floods – people and animals are constantly facing new disasters. The bushfires were particularly devastating in the Australian summer of 2019/2020.

aerial plantation

Young Australian company AirSeed now wants to plant millions of trees by the wind by 2024. Namely where fire and clearing have severely attacked the vegetation. The company, founded in 2019, works with ecologists to create planting patterns and produce capsules containing seeds and nutrients, which are then dropped from a drone over a selected area.

“Our primary mission is to restore lost biodiversity by planting native species of trees, shrubs and grasses,” said Managing Director Andrew Walker. “Everything we plant should benefit the local ecosystem.”

Drones can reach remote areas. “Our approach is about 25 times faster and 80 percent more cost-effective than manual planting methods,” Walker said. To date, AirSeed has planted 150,000 trees this way, and hundreds of thousands more are to be planted in the coming months.

afforestation in the rainforest

Reforest Now is also committed to deforestation – however, the organization is not dedicated to the outback, but to parts of rainforest in the tropical north and subtropical northeast of the country. “We’re not doing this because it’s easy, but because we live on the driest continent in the world and there is an urgent need for deforestation,” the website says.

The work of Greening Australia, a non-profit that has been in existence for 40 years, is extensive. With projects that include restoring destructible outdoor habitats, protecting the Great Barrier Reef and green cities, the organization aims to achieve its vision of “healthy and productive landscapes where people and nature thrive”. Among other things, environmentalists seek to create a national network of seed collectors as well as seek new ways of producing native seeds.

Rain comes in large quantities – but when?

But the climatic conditions are difficult and barely calculable. “Australia is an arid continent. Precipitation occurs in large amounts but at unpredictable times,” says Glenda Wardle, professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Sydney. “There are very dry years and then there is a lot of rain. So with bad conditions you suddenly come across occasions where it’s green.”

The scientists – who lead a research group on desert ecology – are skeptical about the sustainable greening of arid and semi-arid outdoor areas. “It is probably a misconception that Australia can be artificially and permanently green,” she says. “There is rainwater and groundwater, but resources are limited. To keep the desert green, you need a constant supply – there isn’t more.”

“Don’t plant where there is no forest”

Still, it is a good idea to “transplant” destroyed areas “with similar native species and similar densities.” However, afforestation isn’t always the right solution: “We shouldn’t plant forests where they don’t belong,” says Wardle. Rather, it should be ensured that no other area is cut or otherwise modified.

The Bush Heritage Australia organization is committed to the conservation of endangered lands. It was founded in 1991 by Green politician Bob Brown with the aim of exclusively buying and protecting endangered ecosystems. Meanwhile, 39 reserves with a total area of ​​1.2 million hectares have already been acquired. In addition, the organization works with indigenous and other landlords to help protect millions of hectares of land.

too exposed landscape

“We have some national parks and nature reserves, but there are still a lot of landscapes that are not protected at all or not protected enough,” says ecologist Anke Frank. The German lives and works on one of the protected lands – the 233,000-hectare Pillunga Reservation in Queensland’s Simpson Desert, traditionally owned by Wangkamdla tribesmen.

For example, spinifex grasses that grow in a circle and are widespread in arid regions are protected here. “The grass provides a lot of protection,” says Anke Frank. “It’s very prickly and hunters have problems catching the animals below.” But if there is a lot of forest, for example, the grass is trampled and destroyed by cattle. Experts are convinced: In the wrong place, reforestation can mess up an ecosystem – or even destroy it.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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