What is Revegetation and Why is it Important?

Revegetation is a vital step in facilitating a successful soil restoration in disturbed lands. It can occur naturally through plant succession and colonization or accelerated human-driven land changes meant to repair damage caused by severe events like floods, wildfire, or mining. The original technique involved applying fertilizer and seeds to vulnerable lands.

For those unfamiliar with revegetation, you’ll want to review its benefits to prevent soil erosion successfully, reduce wind erosion, and boost soil’s ability to soak up water that runs off the surface. Without employing revegetation-based erosion control strategies, plant communities and delicate habitats may sustain avoidable damage.

revegetation

Benefits of revegetation

Unlike the normal tree planting process, revegetation requires pre-planning activities like land designing. In the designing phase, you’ll outline which type of plants to use in specific areas and perform soil compatibility studies. Proper environmental and landscape analysis are the key to successful revegetation. Proper planning ensures that you allocate money and resources wisely and fare a better chance of achieving your goals and earning a profit.

Some native plants can only grow in specific areas, so it’s essential to identify which plant types can endure your region’s climate. Homeowners complete the revegetation process for various reasons, including its ability to benefit governments, private individuals, communities, and companies, alike.

If you need a solid Colorado seed company that provides conservation and reclamation seeds, check out Granite Seed; they’ve been implementing soil erosion control measures and distributing products across North America for more than 30 years. For optimal results, consult the professionals.

Soil erosion control

Revegetation is crucial, as the risk of erosion damage increases when the land is bare or contains little vegetation cover. Plants offer a protective barrier and prevent soil erosion by slowing down water runoff and encouraging more water to seep into the ground. Additionally, the roots hold the soil intact while protecting the plant itself from powerful rushing water that can wash it away. This plant life also assists in stabilizing slopes and embankments, lowering the terrain’s susceptibility to landslides.

Trees, grass, crop residue, and plants offer ultimate soil coverage and intercept all falling raindrops, acting as the most effective soil erosion control measure. Mulch provides additional protection from wind and rain before the newly-planted seeds take root while minimizing soil moisture loss during prolonged dry periods.

Mulching is crucial in halting destructive erosion and establishing vegetation in places with severe exposure to natural and human-driven erosion. Experts advise utilizing hydromulching in such conditions. The absence of windbreakers like crop residue, trees, and shrubs leads to more soil displacement, thus increasing erosion and abrasion.

Conservation

One of the primary roles of revegetation is to connect lost patches of natural habitat. It serves as a crucial tool in areas that have suffered extensive natural vegetation clearances like urban environments. Research shows that revegetation can facilitate the restoration of significant urban bird populations by connecting the existing habitat with new patches, enhancing bird species diversity.

Developing large habitat patches is an effective method of increasing bird abundance. Therefore, revegetation plans should carefully consider how to connect the new vegetation patches with the existing habitats for the sanctity of bird populations. Revegetating agricultural zones, in specific, can encourage breeding.

For the most part, revegetation favors thriving and common species of birds over declining, rare types. Despite its favoritism, revegetation provides a home to millions of species like small mammals, insects, and birds, when successful.

Soil fertility restoration

Activities like mining lead to extensive topsoil damages as reinstatement, stripping, and stockpiling causes soil degradation. This damage occurs through accelerated soil erosion, soil structure loss, soil PH reduction, organic matter depletion, compaction, reduced microbial activity, and heavy metal accumulation. Topsoil management is essential for restoring fertility and minimizing nutrient losses.

Revegetation via forest vegetation restores soil fertility by improving the capacity to exchange cations, organic matter, and available nutrients while sustaining biological activities and improving physical conditions.

This method is beneficial, but it takes prolonged periods to regenerate the soil to its original state. Some of the ideal trees for revegetating mined lands are grasses, legumes, trees, and herbs N-fixing species. The favorable tree species are Leucaena, Acacia, and other acid-tolerant legume trees, which provide the soils with substantial organic matter.

Pollution reduction

Revegetation and reforestation play a significant role in minimizing pollution. The net carbon release from deforestation was estimated at 1-2 billion tonnes in 1980 and between 1.5- 3 billion in 1989. There’s enough evidence to verify a significant increase in deforestation since 1980 in multiple tropical areas. Revegetation offers a long term solution to sequestering carbon (IV) oxide because as trees mature, they eliminate Carbon (IV) oxide, thus slowing down carbon buildup in the atmosphere.

Beautifies the landscape

Besides purifying the air by filtering pollutants and harmful dust and gifting human beings with life-supporting oxygen, vegetation also makes the environment beautiful. Revegetating bare land makes it attractive, restores its appearance, and can even boost its value.

college-green

If you notice your yard is looking dull or lifeless, vegetation can add color to a property’s outdoor living spaces. For example, trees bear beautiful flowers, magnificent leaves, and fruits, which can sprinkle vibrant accent colors throughout your back and front yard. For more information on how to keep your trees healthy, check out this article.

It would be best to seek an expert before embarking on your revegetation project, as it can be a meticulous process. A revegetation expert will offer expert insight and advice on how to proceed.

Sustainability Standards in Oil Palm Industry: An Overview

The palm oil industry is particularly involved in the development of sustainability standards. Driven by growing global demand, palm oil production has expanded rapidly in the last few years. Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil in the world, and its popularity has grown even more with the emergence of new market opportunities in the biofuels sector, in addition to its traditional food and oleochemical uses.

This strong growth has unquestionably contributed to the economic development of the main producer countries – Indonesia and Malaysia – which account for 87% of global production. Palm oil cultivation provides income for many smallholders, whose produce accounts for around 40% of world palm oil output.

Environmental and Socio-economic Concerns

However, the expansion of palm oil cultivation has also generated serious environmental concerns. It results in tropical deforestation and thus has a major impact on biodiversity loss, with the decline of emblematic species such as orangutan in Southeast Asia. It contributes to climate change through deforestation, but also through the conversion of peatlands, which are of vital importance in soil carbon sequestration.

The huge forest and bush fires in recent years in Indonesia which are associated with clearing lands for agricultural or forestry plantations caused severe air pollution and public health problems across the sub-region. In addition, industrial plantations are sometimes responsible for polluting waterways, into which chemical inputs and processing plant waste are dumped.

Moreover, this expansion has sometimes resulted in social abuses and human rights violations, in the form of land grabbing by plantation companies at the expense of local and indigenous communities or of the exploitation of plantation workers.

Sustainability Standards in Oil Palm Industry

Condemnation of these abuses by NGOs and growing consumer awareness of the adverse impacts of the expansion of palm oil plantation have driven the development of sustainability standards. Such standards are aimed at transforming production practices in order to mitigate their adverse environmental and social effects.

The expansion of palm oil cultivation in Southeast Asia has also generated serious environmental concerns.

In 2001, representatives of the food processing and distribution sector launched a dialogue with WWF and plantation companies, leading to the creation in 2004 of the first voluntary sustainability standard in the sector, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

There are now 2.41 million hectares of RSPO-certified plantations, while sustainable palm oil accounted for 20% of world trade in this product. Meanwhile, several other initiatives proposing a vision of palm oil sustainability have emerged, positioning themselves as either a complement or an alternative to RSPO.

New Challenges to Overcome

The development of these initiatives demonstrates the growing awareness among producers, the industry and the public authorities of the need to transform the sector to enable it to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But this proliferation of sustainability standards itself poses new challenges, even though the environmental and social problems that motivated their emergence remain unresolved.

At the institutional level, the proliferation of sustainability initiatives since the creation of RSPO reflects a real fragmentation of the regulatory framework. This proliferation also raises the question of the articulation of these voluntary standards with the public regulations and national sustainability standards that producer countries have adopted.

Finally, measures to ensure the sustainability of palm oil cultivation need to bolster their credibility by guaranteeing better inclusion of the millions of smallholders, and by contributing in an effective, measurable way to mitigating the adverse social and environmental impacts of growth in palm oil cultivation. In this field, the role of collaborative and multidisciplinary research in providing strong evidence-based impact evaluation of standards is crucial.

How Does ESG Bring Value To A Company?

Have you ever wondered why certain companies perform better than others? The answer has three letters, and it is ESG.

Whether you are a startup or an established business organization, ESG reporting and investment is the framework to stay relevant to the current industry trends and practices.

Furthermore, you can even compare the ESG to the radar system that encapsulates everyone in the ecosystem.

What is ESG?

ESG is the abbreviation of Environmental, Social, and Governance. These three are the key components that refer to the factors measuring the sustainability and the ethical impact of the businesses and companies.

How Does ESG Bring Value To A Company?

 

Most investors who seek to invest in companies look at the ESG scale of the company. Therefore, if the company fails to pass the ESG standards, it fails to win over investors for the company.

If we go with the definition, ESG is a generic term used in the capital market. It is commonly used by investors to evaluate the behaviors and future potential of the company.

What falls under ESG?

1. Environmental

It examines how the business performs to safeguard the natural environments. 

It focuses on:

  • Resource depletion.
  • Waste and pollution.
  • Greenhouse gas emission.
  • Climate change.
  • Deforestation.

2. Social

It looks at the social behavior of the company and how it treats other people.

  • Employee relations and diversity.
  • Healthy & Safety.
  • Working conditions.
  • Conflicts.
  • Local communities.

3. Governance

It examines the credibility of the company policies and how the business operations are governed.

  • Executive remuneration.
  • Tax strategy.
  • Donations and political lobbying.
  • Corruption & Bribery.
  • Board diversity & structure.

If you are a company and would like your company to be ESG compliant, contact Diginex. They are an award-winning agency that ensures your company gets ESG complaints.

How Can ESG Bring Value To Your Company?

When it comes to ESG, corporations are looking at it as a business opportunity. These include new markets they can open and sell to, cost reduction, and integrated risk management.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive into it.

1. Top-Line Growth

A strong ESG proposition allows the companies to tap into new markets and expand themselves into the existing market. When the government authorities find that you are doing something for society, they are more likely to be awarded the license, access, and approvals to grasp opportunities for growth.

In addition, ESG can also drive consumer preference. If the consumer finds that the company they are dealing with or investing in is taking action to protect nature and society, consumers show more interest and are willing to pay more to go green.

2. Cost Reduction

Among the many advantages of ESG, one of the major advantages is that it can help you with cost reductions. In addition, executing ESG effectively can help the organization combat rising expenses.

climate change in sustainability reporting

With the ESG, you can see the flow of the expenses and put a lid on unnecessary expenses. This will close the finance lease and significantly reduce business operating costs.

3. Reduce Regularities

A stronger external value proposition can help the organization achieve greater strategic freedom and help ease regulatory issues.

We have seen that most business actions are put to a halt by the government authorities because of many reasons. However, with the ESG compliant business operation, companies can reduce the risk of adverse government action.

4. Boost In Employees Productivity

Just paying a high salary package will not ensure you with talented employees. It is the company’s belief and principle that attracts talented individuals. A strong ESG proposition can help you attract talented employees to the organization.

A recent study shows that positive social action correlates with job satisfaction. With the ESG, you can ensure that your employees feel that they are giving something back to society, making them feel satisfied by what they are doing.

ESG For The Long Term

ESG is a long-term solution for companies that are finding it hard to expand their business. Although ESG alone might help develop your business, it will certainly help remove the restriction from your business.

Australia: A Climate Crisis

The world, as we know, is getting warmer and warmer. Weather across the globe is changing significantly, and it’s all down to climate change. From increasing sea levels, the melting of polar ice caps and not forgetting constant reports on hurricanes and heatwaves, the world is going through a climate crisis, and there isn’t long left to attempt to reverse the changes that have been made to our environment.

 

Evan following the huge European heatwave recently, and mass historical data showing that there’s ‘no doubt left’ regarding global warming, one place, in particular, is expected to be hit harder than any other.

That place is Australia.

Australia’s Climate

Due to Australia being located within the southern hemispheres, the seasons are opposite of North America and Europe and feature an abundance of diversity. This includes everything from golden sandy beaches and tropical rainforests to a rich coral reef, filled with diverse marine life, huge, sparse deserts and equally as vast grazing lands.

As you may know, the majority of the population in Australia is confined to the edges of the country, with most people living within the cities and larger towns.

While Australia is warm, and known to be an extremely hot country, 2018 was the third-warmest since records began, with the mean temperature sitting and 1.14°C above average.

While this may not seem much considering the already warm nature of Australia, it’s quite an alarming statistic. Alongside this, the warmth was persistent throughout the year with many of the months recording temperatures within each month’s top ten.

Rainfall was also down, standing at 11% below the average when compared to 1961 – 1990. You can find the rest of the stats here.

Continuing issue

These shocking figures have continued into 2020.

During May, Sydney, Darwin, Melbourne and Brisbane were all facing water restrictions. This was due to dams only being 50% full, or lower, as a result of higher temperatures and low rainfall.

The statistics for Sydney are considerably alarming. As the lowest dam percentage since 1940, the 11 dams were at a combined capacity of 55%, which itself was down by 18% in the year from May 2018.

Measured through high tech devices, similar to ones available from RS Components, Sydney went on to receive its first water restrictions in more than a decade as drought gripped New South Wales.

Meanwhile, high temperatures and low rainfall are expected to continue according to The Bureau of Meteorology.

The future

As you can guess from the warnings issued to the population of the world as a whole, climate change is only going to get worse unless something is done, and this applies greatly to Australia.

Back in 2015, it was reported that by 2090 it was predicted that the temperatures would rise by up to 5.1 degrees Celsius in Australia alone. As you can see, this is already happening, with significant rises just three to four years after the comprehensive report was put together.

Alongside this, sea level rises were also expected to increase significantly too. This was projected to be between 26 – 55 cm under low emission scenarios, whereas high emissions scenarios could see rises between 45 – 86 cm. This was estimated based on relative data between 1986 and 2005. If scenarios were worse, then sea level rises could be between one and three metres after 2100.

With the majority of the population living in built-up areas on the edge of the country, which is where much of its tourism comes from too, things could get worse for Australia in more ways than first imagined. With a climate crisis dangling above us, the time to act on it is now to prevent these scenarios from happening or worse, happening quicker than first thought.

6 Common Reasons Why Sidewalks Are Seldom Used

One of the common neighborhood problems is how people walk on the streets instead of sidewalks. Going to and from work or school, they find it more convenient to walk on the streets because it is free from obstruction. At the same time, the space is wider compared to the human traffic experienced in walking on sidewalks. Sidewalks are often dominated by vehicles limiting the volume of people they can cater to.

Not using the sidewalks may provide convenience at some point but it compromises the safety of the people. In building a community, one of the most important considerations is easy and safe means of transport. Allow the sidewalks to give the people a reason to walk instead of hopping on a bus or taking a cab. These 6 reasons will give you a clearer view on why people seldom use sidewalks.

(Image Source: https://www.citylab.com/life/2016/04/las-vegas-gamble-with-pedestrian-powered-streetlights-solar-kinetic-energy/476292/)

1. The Lighting Design is Poor

Lighting design is one of the considerations in order to maximize the utilization of sidewalks even at night. This does not just make them visible at night. Lighting also helps in making the people feel more secured. There are a lot of people who walk home at night. Walking in a dark sidewalk makes a person more cautious about the surroundings. There is the feeling of worry about how walking in a dark sidewalk alone will compromise their safety.

Most urban designers think highly of the lighting design of the streets. Apart from the fact that it compromises safety, this is the most common reason why few people choose to walk on sidewalks at night. There are a lot of all-in-one solar street lights with an innovational design that brings out the essence of well-lit sidewalks. Apart from the fact that it is energy-efficient, these street lights are also providing direct and vibrant light on the streets.

2. The Vehicles Dominate the Sidewalk

Instead of being able to pass through smoothly, small vehicles are parked on the streets. Being able to dominate the sidewalk limits the space where people can pass through. Spaces designated for small vehicles should be provided for the people to maximize the space designated for them. Most people park their bikes and motorcycles on sidewalks because there are limited spaces for them. This may seem like a small issue but it constitutes to why people choose not to walk on sidewalks.

3. The Space is Limited

In planning urban or rural sidewalks, the designated space depends on the volume of people. This is the primary consideration making it possible for the sidewalk to cater to the population. Know that not all have the means of transporting through bus or cab. Most people choose to walk block by block. When the space is limited, it will take time to walk from one block to another because you keep bumping on people.

Sidewalks with limited space are more likely not to be prioritized by people. This is one of the urban and rural issues which should be provided with a long term solution. Most people choose to walk on the side streets. Apart from the fact that it’s convenient, the human traffic is manageable compared to the ones in the sidewalk. Convenience and walkability feature is what the sidewalk should feature.

4. The Obstructions Affect Human Traffic

One of the best examples of sidewalk obstruction are trees that are too big for the sidewalks. With the limited space provided for the sidewalk, the growth of trees become uncontrollable. In choosing the landscapes for the sidewalks, the space it should be consuming ten to twenty years from now should be taken into consideration. Most landscape architects and designers choose large-scaled landscapes not for aesthetic purposes but for the natural sun-shading feature it provides.

5. The Sidewalks are Poorly Planned

When a sidewalk is highly utilized, they are more likely to undergo several planning and research for development. Not because there is a space designated for a sidewalk doesn’t stop the responsibilities of the planners. They have a lot of design considerations for sidewalks to consider before building, designing, and landscaping. These sidewalks are a life-long solution to people violating the rules and regulations.

6. The Sidewalks are Unfriendly for Pedestrians

Unfriendly sidewalks result to poor utilization. They are not used based on their fundamental function. Instead, they are used as an alternative designated for parking, portable toilets, alfresco for restaurants, and other means. When pedestrians find sidewalks friendly, they tend to maximize its utilization. They should be designated for people and not for any other purpose. This will not just manage the human traffic but most people will comply with pedestrian rules and regulations.

Conclusion

In order to come up with a walkable sidewalk, they should be designed according to what the users need. They need convenience and assurance that these are safe for utilization at any time of the day. Sidewalks should be friendly for people for them to consider walking instead of using public transportation. Moreover, a highly utilized sidewalk will constitute to less vehicular and human traffic.

Waste Management Outlook for Nigeria

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with population exceeding 182 million people, is grappling with waste management issues. The country generates around 43.2 million tonnes of waste annually. By 2025 with a population of 233.5 million, Nigeria will be generating an estimated 72.46 million tonnes of waste annually at a projected rate of 0.85 kg of waste/capita/day. This means that Nigeria annual waste generation will almost equal its crude oil production which currently stands at approximately 89.63 million tonnes per year.

waste-nigeria

Also, at an estimated annual waste generation figure of 72.46 million tonnes, Nigeria will be generating about one-fourth of the total waste that will be produced in the whole of Africa. This is scary and if proper attention is not paid to this enormous challenge, Nigeria might become the “Waste Capital of Africa”.

Waste is a Resource for Nigeria

Nonetheless, this challenge can be turned into a blessing because waste is a resource in disguise. If its potential is properly tapped, waste management can create employment, enable power generation, create a waste-based economy and contribute to economic diversification which Nigeria. There is no doubt that this is achievable because we have examples of countries already utilizing their waste judiciously.

Some good examples of sustainable waste management systems that can be implemented in Nigeria includes

  1. Shanghai (China) which turn 50% of the generated waste into power generation electrifying 100,000 homes;
  2. Incheon (South Korea) where its Sudokwon landfill receives about 20,000 tons of waste daily which is converted into electric power, has a water recycling and desalination facility, and has created more than 200 jobs;
  3. Los Angeles (USA) which produces electric power enough for 70,000 homes in its Puente Hills landfill;
  4. Germany whose sophisticated waste processing systems through recycling, composting, and energy generation has already saved the country 20% of the cost of metals and 3% of the cost of energy imports;
  5. Austria, though a small country, is doing big things in waste management especially through recycling;
  6. Sweden, whose recycling is so revolutionary that the country had to import waste; and
  7. Flanders, Belgium which possesses the best waste diversion rate in Europe with 75% of their waste being reused, recycled or composted. An interesting fact is that per capita waste generation rate in Flanders is more than twice that of Nigeria at 1.5 kg/day.

Waste Management Outlook for Nigeria

Below are some of the major things the government need to do to judiciously utilize the free and abundant resource available in the form of trash in Nigeria:

Firstly, attention needs to be paid to building the human resource potential of the country to build the required capacity in conceptualizing fit-for-purpose innovative solution to be deployed in tackling and solving the waste challenge.

While knowledge exchange/transfer through international public private partnership is a possible way in providing waste management solution, it is not sustainable for the country especially because there is already an unemployment problem in Nigeria. Hence, funding the training of interested and passionate individuals and entrepreneurs in waste management is a better way of tackling the waste crisis in Nigeria.

Olusosun is the largest dumpsite in Nigeria

The Federal Government through the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) of the Ministry of Communication currently sponsor students to study oil and gas as well as information technology related subjects in foreign countries in the hope of boosting manpower in both sectors of the economy. The same approach should be used in the waste management sector and this can be handled through the Federal Ministry of Environment.

Interestingly, waste generation is almost at par with crude oil production in Nigeria. Therefore, equal attention should be paid to waste-to-wealth sector. Needless to say, this is important as there is no university in Nigeria currently offering waste management as a stand-alone course either at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

The Rationale for National Waste Strategy

Secondly, there is an urgent need for a strong National Waste Management Strategy to checkmate the different types of waste that enters the country’s waste stream as well as the quantity of waste being produced. To develop an effective national waste strategy, a study should be carried out to understand the country’s current stream of waste, generation pattern, and existing management approach. This should be championed by the Federal Ministry of Environment in conjunction with State and Local Government waste management authorities.

Once this is done, each State of the Federation will now integrate their own individual State Waste Management Plan into that of the Federal Government to achieve a holistic waste management development in Nigeria. By so doing, the government would also contribute to climate change mitigation because the methane produced when waste degrades is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas known to many and contributor to global warming).

The Need for Financial Incentives

Finally, the government needs to support existing waste management initiatives either through tax-holiday on major equipment that need to be imported for their work and/or on their operation for a certain period of time. Also, if workable, the government can float a grant for innovative ideas and provide liberal subsidies in waste management to jumpstart the growth of the sector.

Lastly, the Government of Nigeria can raise a delegation of experts, entrepreneurs, industry professionals, academia, and youngsters to visit countries with sound waste management strategy for knowledge sharing, capacity-building, technology transfer and first-hand experience.

Note: The unedited version of the article can be found at this link

7 Crop Health Metrics That Matter to Farmers

Crop health is of paramount importance to farmers; thus, careful and consistent monitoring of crop health is an absolute must. A recent study on coffee yield losses from 2013 to 2015 revealed that pests and diseases led to high primary (26%) and secondary (38%) yield losses in the researcher’s sampled area. This highlights the significance of closely paying attention to such detrimental factors in your crop’s environment. Doing so will ensure maximum yield and profit for farmers come harvest time.

To look at crop health monitoring as governed by just one or two aspects, however, is a serious mistake. Rather, a holistic approach must be adopted; in other words, more factors need to be monitored than just pestilence and disease.

Here are seven of the most important crop health metrics for farmers to monitor, based on the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Program’s guidelines.

1. Crop appearance

Perhaps the most obvious indicator of crop health is their general appearance. While not an all-in-one, foolproof method of gauging the current condition of a particular set of crops, a farmer possessing the right tools and knowledge can tell quite a lot from simply looking at the state of his or her plants.

Lightness or discoloration in foliage more often than not points to chlorosis, a state in which plants produce insufficient chlorophyll. Modern methods of crop health monitoring, including new technologies that utilize both near-infrared and visible light, allow farmers to actively and accurately monitor chlorophyll content.

2. Crop growth

Among the indicators of poor crop growth are short branches, sparse stand, and the rarity or absence of new shoots. This, of course, will inevitably affect your total yield in a negative way. Under ideal circumstances, there should be robust growth and dense, uniform stand in your crops.

3. Tolerance or resistance to stress

Simply put, crop stress is a decrease in crop production brought about by external factors. An example would be exposure to excess light and high temperatures, which may disrupt photosynthesis (known as photoinhibition). As a result, crops will have insufficient energy to bear fruit or grow, and may even sustain lasting damage to their membranes, chloroplasts, and cells. Healthy crops are stress-tolerant, and can easily bounce back after being exposed to stressors in their environment.

4. Occurrences of pests and diseases

An indicator that your crops are extremely susceptible to pests and diseases would be if over 50% of the population ends up getting damaged by said factors. Under the right circumstances, less than 20% of your crops would be negatively affected by any invasion of pests or spread of disease, allowing them to easily recuperate and increase in number once more.

Building crop resistance against harmful insects and diseases can be done in a number of ways, including improving crop diversity, crop rotation, using organic pesticides such as Himalayan salt spray and eucalyptus oil, and even genetic research and enhancement.

5. Weed competition and pressure

Apart from insects and plant diseases, weeds can also spell doom for your crops, if left unchecked. In the event that your farm becomes overpopulated with weeds that will steal the nutrients from your crops, you will certainly notice that your crops are steadily dwindling. Healthy crops, on the other hand, would eventually overwhelm the weed population and reclaim dominance over your field.

6. Genetic diversity

To have only one dominant variety of crop in your farm is tantamount to putting your eggs in a single basket. For instance, you should consider the importance of having multiple disease-resistant crop varieties on your farm. Don’t fall prey to the temptation of replacing them entirely with a single, higher-yielding type.

It is essential to build crop resistance against harmful insects and diseases

7. Plant diversity and population

In an ideal setting, there should be more than two species of plants in your field. Counting the actual number of trees or plants across your farm, as well as the naturally occurring vegetation on all sides of the area, can also give you a better perspective on your farm’s overall crop health.

Importance of crop management system

Some farmers become overly reliant on insecticides and other chemicals to eliminate their pest problems — a grievous error, as this will likely lead to even more serious problems. Even the indiscriminate application of mineral fertilizers may inadvertently boost pest populations by making conditions ideal for them to thrive.

Ultimately, a combination of the right knowledge and the proper technology is a must in measuring and monitoring crop health metrics. Farmers must always be aware of the current health of their crops, and must be prepared to address any problems with solutions that don’t end up causing more.

Recycling Outlook for Latin America

Latin America has one of the highest rates of urbanization in the world (80% urban population). By 2050, 90% of Latin America’s population will live in urban areas. This high rate of urbanization coupled with the global economic crisis has resulted in a waste management crisis. Municipalities find themselves unable to keep up with providing services and infrastructure to the urban populations.

recycling-latin-america

Some cities in Latin America are facing this challenge by integrating the informal sector recyclers who are already active in their cities into the municipal solid waste management systems. In many cities, these “recicladores”, “cartoneros” or “catadores” (a few of the many names used for these workers in the region) are responsible for up to 90% of the recyclable waste recovered from the waste stream. Their work reduces municipal waste transportation costs, increases landfill lifetimes and supports the recycling chain throughout the region.

State of the Affairs

Every location presents its own challenges–there is no one-size-fits-all solution for integrated solid waste management systems–but relevant lessons can be drawn from both failed attempts and successful examples of informal sector integration in recycling systems in Latin America.

There are often two very different contexts within cities. In low-income neighborhoods waste collection services are often not provided and individuals and families accumulate and then sell their recyclables for additional income. In contrast, residents in high income neighborhoods do receive a waste collection service and their motivation for recycling is often related to greater levels of environmental awareness. It is important to consider these differences when designing waste management solutions.

Imported systems, and even locally derived systems based on examples from the Global North, generally focus on only one waste management scenario, making it difficult to manage the multiple competing scenarios in many cities in Latin America. There is often a bias towards the automation of waste management services, with the application of the high technology solutions used in the Global North.

Regardless of the practicality or scientific evidence against certain high tech solutions, these are often sought after, thought to raise the bar of the city, to make it appear more sophisticated and modern. This leads to a misconception that working with informal sector is a step backwards in terms of urban development and modernization.

Waste management projects based on public-private partnership (PPP) model has more chances of success in developing countries

Conflicts between private waste management companies, the municipality and informal recyclers are common. The waste management companies do not want pickers on the landfill and wastepickers then go to the municipality for help. However, municipalities usually have very little experience to support the integration of formal and informal waste sectors.

There are opportunities for new systems to emerge within this conflict. For example, during a similar conflict in Mexicali, Mundo Sustentable, with the help of Danone, intervened to help a private company work with the informal waste sector and improve recycling rates.

The Way Forward

In Latin America, there is a great opportunity to increase recycling rates by using labour-intensive solutions, which create jobs and support the development of a better urban environment in the cities. Municipal governments should be an integral part of these processes as they are usually responsible for solid waste management at local level. The key to catalyzing informal recycling sector integration will be the development and dissemination of successful examples.

Informal recyclers provide important a range of services to municipalities (such as waste collection and recovery in communities that would not otherwise have access to them), as well as cost savings (for example, the extension of landfill life and reduced transport costs), yet are rarely compensated for these benefits. Informal recyclers further form the foundation of an entire recycling supply chain, which ultimately benefits formal businesses, and often aliment entire local economies.

Challenges to Overcome

Municipal governments are often hesitant to work with informal actors, who are frequently seen as an unknown quantity. Yet often in the process of working and developing relations with informal recycler groups, their concerns diminish and they may actually exhibit enthusiasm. Likewise, the recyclers may gain in confidence and professionalism in their experience of formalization.

One major challenge facing efforts to integrate the informal sector in developing countries is the desire of some local governments to adopt technological solutions that appear more “modern.” In much of Latin America, however, low-cost, low-tech solutions tend to be more viable and sustainable.

The main difference between Latin America and the countries of the Global North is that solid waste management is a labor intensive system. It is made up of workers and hence has an important social component. The ILO estimated there is 24 million of people working in the global recycling supply chain, but those at the bottom of the pyramid, the wastepickers, make up 80%. They remain the lowest paid even though they make an enormous contribution to their cities.

It is important to understand that highly sophisticated, high technology systems are not required for effective resource recovery. In many cities in Latin America between 80-90% of everything that is recycled is recovered by the informal recycling sector.

Despite the fact that there is little or no public investment in waste management or recycling infrastructure, cities with an active informal sector reach twice the rate of fully formalized municipal solid waste management systems. As an example, the recycling rate is 60% in Cairo, while in Rotterdam (and other cities in the Global North) recycling levels only reach 30%, even with a high public investment in the system (UN Habitat, 2010).

When designing infrastructure and waste management systems we must consider not only the waste management and resource recovery needs but also the social side of the system. In order to be effective, efforts to upgrade waste management services should go hand in hand with efforts to formalise and integrate the informal sector.

Bogota – A Success Story

An example of a recent success story is that after 27 years of struggle, the waste pickers in Bogota, Colombia have managed to change the government’s outlook on their work and their existence. They are now included in the system and are paid per tonne of waste collected, just like any other private sector collection and waste management company would be. They have become recognized as public service providers, acknowledged for their contribution to the environment and public health of the city.

The key challenge is to be much more creative and understand that in order to improve the working conditions of waste pickers and in order to increase recycling rates, we don’t need high technology. We need a systemic approach and this can be very simple sometimes infrastructure as simple as a roof [on a sorting area] can be effective in improving working conditions.

Note: This excerpt is being published with the permission of our collaborative partner Be Waste Wise. The original excerpt and its video recording can be found at this link

How Using Energy-Efficient Technologies Can Contribute to Sustainability

Economies use energy to help them grow. It is needed in many sectors such as manufacturing and mining, public infrastructure, agriculture, and others. Although energy is important in these sectors, economies are realizing the importance of using sustainable energies. They have seen some undesirable results that come with using unsustainable energy and they seek to reduce them.

Energy-efficient technologies are important to consider at an organizational level for any organization seeking to be environmentally conscious. These technologies are using alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, which are cleaner and sustainable. Let us see how these energy-efficient technologies can contribute to sustainability:

How Energy-Efficient Technologies Can Contribute to Sustainability

1. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Coal, distillate fuel, and natural gas produce carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas. The aim of using sustainable technologies is to reduce the emission of these gases.

With alternative sources of energy, the emission of these gases is reduced. Unlike coal and natural gas, these alternatives do not produce carbon dioxide that can increase the amount of greenhouse gases during combustion. Biomass, for example, has its carbon dioxide neutralized by plants during the natural carbon cycle. So, any carbon dioxide produced during the combustion of biomass is considered neutral.

Interestingly, biomass produces the same amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during decay, which is also a natural cycle.

Fossil fuels, on the other hand, have their carbon dioxide locked for as long as they exist. When not combusted, these fuels do not emit this gas to the atmosphere. Instead, it keeps building up, and when combusted, all the gas is released.

So, instead of using fuel whose carbon dioxide has been building up for years, using alternative sources such as biomass, solar and wind are more sustainable because they do not increase the level of greenhouse gases.

2. Prevents the Depletion of Natural Resources

Fossil fuels occur naturally and are non-renewable. When solely dependent on energy, these resources continue depleting because as the global population increase, the need for more production increases.

Alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal are sustainable options. These sources are renewable and can never be depleted. They are also clean sources of energy. When used, they help in preventing the destruction of natural habitats, reducing global warming, and climate change.

When economies embrace the use of sustainable technologies, there will be reduced demand for energy from natural resources.

3. Help Companies Save on Energy Bills

Companies often spend a lot on their energy bills. But, they can reduce them and have a lower cost of production. It means they can sell their products with better profit margins by either reducing their prices and increasing their demands or selling at the same price. On average, they reduce their energy bills by 75% when they use energy-efficient technologies.

reduce electricity bill

To enjoy energy-saving, a company can invest in wind or solar energy. Wind turbines are used for converting wind into energy while solar panels are used for converting solar into energy. Depending on a company’s need for power, the installation capacity varies.

4. Create Better Living Standards

Emerging and developing economies have a high energy demand. These economies largely depend on non-renewable sources of energy such as coal, natural gas, and oil. These fuels are carbon-emitting and can create health implications.

With energy-efficient technologies, these economies can have access to clean energy. It is environmentally friendly, which means they will have less pollution in the air.

Besides, these sources of energy are easy to obtain because they occur naturally and are renewable. They are also cheaper when compared to non-renewable sources, which makes them affordable. When people from these economies use such energy, they have better living standards in terms of health and affordable living.

5. Reduce Soil Degradation

Soil degradation is a major problem facing farmers around the world. It has been estimated that globally, approximately 40% of agricultural land is degraded. The main causes of soil degradation are poor farming practices, climate change, and human activities such as deforestation, urbanization, and industrial development.

There are several ways to address soil degradation, including improving crop rotation, using cover crops, and applying organic amendments. However, these methods are often expensive and require significant investment.

A new technology called energy-efficient technologies (EETs) could provide an affordable solution to soil degradation. EETs, use solar power to generate electricity, which can then be used to run farm equipment.

6. Job Creation

Economies are using energy-efficient technologies such as wind and solar power to produce power. They have been transitioning from using non-renewable fossil fuels in a bid to reduce production costs and maximize their profits.

energy efficient technologies

The transition from fossil fuel to using clean energy has helped with job creation in many countries around the world. For example, a study by the international renewable energies agency found that every $1 billion invested in renewables creates about 2 million new jobs worldwide. This is because of the increased demand for workers who install, maintain, repair, operate, or sell these systems. So, people are able to earn a livelihood, which improves their standards of living.

Because there is an increasing rise in demand for energy-efficient technologies, there will be a continuous demand for labor. Skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labor will be wanted during the transition. It means many people, regardless of their qualifications will have somewhere to earn a living.

7. Sustainable Economic Development

Sustainable economic development aims at reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and reducing emissions from waste generation.

The following is a list of some examples:

Energy efficiency in buildings can be achieved by using more insulation materials or better windows to keep heat inside during winter time and cool air outside during summertime. This will save on heating costs for people living there. It also reduces carbon dioxide emission which contributes to global warming.

In the transportation sector, electric vehicles have been developed as an alternative to conventional gasoline-powered cars. These use clean energy that does not interfere with the atmosphere.

Using energy-efficient technologies has many benefits towards creating sustainability and economies should embrace them.

The Concept of Passive House: An Interview with Toyin-Ann Yerifor

Green building concepts have come a long way. As architects, designers, and builders gain access to better tools that help push the limits of construction energy efficiency; we see longer strides made towards more mainstream adoption of green building standards. One such standard that is coming of age is passive houses. The concept of passive houses was first mooted in the early eighties when the idea of green building was still in its infancy. Today, the concept is well entrenched with over 25,000 houses and buildings across the world qualifying as passive houses.

We recently caught up with Toyin-Ann Yerifor, an architectural consultant focused on exploring new and innovative ways to design with reduced impact on the environment to explain what passive houses are and their benefits. She holds an MSc in Architecture (AEES) from the University of East London, an MBA from the University of Northampton and an MSc in Computer Science and Engineering from the Université Grenoble Alpes.

What is a Passive House?

First, what is a passive house? Toyin-Ann explains: A passive house is any building that adheres to rigorous energy efficiency standards. The term passive comes from the fact that the building’s energy efficiency comes from its passive structures, which include the roof, walls, windows, doors, and floor. By radically improving the building’s insulation and energy conservation features, it is possible to reduce its heating requirements by up to ninety percent. As such, passive housing as a standard is focused on helping reduce the energy requirements of buildings through insulation, and by extension, their overall energy footprint.

When you reduce a building’s energy footprint, says Toyin-Ann, several benefits accrue, including environmental, health, and cost efficiency benefits.

Environmental Benefits of Passive Houses

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “energy efficiency is the first fuel of a sustainable global energy system. It can mitigate climate change, improve energy security, and grow economies while delivering environmental and social benefits.” Passive houses deliver on this mandate superbly, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.

One of the biggest challenges traditional buildings face is energy loss. When a building easily loses energy in the form of heat, it takes burning more fuel to heat the building. When this happens, overall energy consumption goes up, which is bad for the environment because a major portion of heat generation comes from burning fossil fuels. When buildings are radically energy efficient, on the other hand, less energy is required, and so fewer fossil fuels need to be burned.

While this is the macro view of the environmental benefits of passive houses, are there any micro benefits of investing in this technology? Here are two, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. First, think of the air quality that comes with less energy consumption. In homes that rely on furnaces, doing away with the furnace improves the air quality in and around the home significantly.

Second, sound pollution is eliminated if you no longer need to use a furnace, HVAC units around the home, or any other heat generation and management devices. Essentially, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor, passive houses reduce the need to burden the environment. Through radical energy efficiency and self-sufficiency, passive house buildings become a part of the environment and not just an addition to it.

Health and Comfort Benefits

When most people hear about passive houses, they imagine living in a sealed paper bag. That thought can be quite disheartening because issues of quality of air, air adequacy, and comfort come to mind. Although the idea behind passive houses is energy efficiency through a tightly sealed envelope (building), this does not mean health and comfort are compromised. Take air quality, for instance. Most people consider opening a window the best way to guarantee air quality in a room. Now, passive houses rely on closed windows to ensure no heat escapes, which presents a dilemma. Passive houses address this dilemma well, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.

Although you can open a window in a passive house, even if you do not, the heat recovery ventilation system ensures there is enough quality air circulating the house. Regarding comfort, passive houses maintain a comfortable temperature regulated by the passive heat sources in the house like appliances, body heat, and lighting. Also, they tend not to have cold spots or hot spots, which is often the case with traditionally heated homes. Through rigorous design standards afforded by tools such as the Passive House Planning Package, homes built on the passive house standard adhere to comfort standards as rigorous as the energy efficiency standards stipulated.

Cost Efficiency Benefits

Cost efficiency is at the heart of the passive house concept. When a building is exceptionally well insulated, it can use as little as 10 percent of its regular heating energy requirements. This, of course, also significantly reduces the costs associated with heating the building. So, how does the passive house concept achieve such a radical reduction in energy needs? The answer is insulation, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. Passive houses rely on extensive insulation to gain this level of energy efficiency. Why is insulation so effective?

Traditional buildings lose a lot of heat through the roof, walls, floor, doors, and, most of all, windows. With a passive house, each of these structures is carefully designed and built to ensure close to zero loss of heat. When you look at the thermal scan of a passive house next to a traditional house, you’ll notice the passive house is almost entirely blue, meaning there’s close to no energy loss. The other building is close to all red, meaning it is losing a lot of energy. This level of energy conservation and efficiency is what leads to the massive energy savings that make passive houses so cost-efficient.

Passive houses are a concept that is yet to hit mainstream construction. However, this does not mean it is impractical to build passive houses. What it does point to is the need for better awareness of the concept. Toyin-Ann Yerifor recommends anyone interested in the concept to visit a passive house showcase home to experience its benefits firsthand. She says this is the only way to understand and internalize this breakthrough energy efficiency concept.