Tuesday, May 05, 2009

How We Regrew a Rainforest

By piecing together a complex ecological puzzle, biologist Willie Smits has found a way to re-grow clearcut rainforest in Borneo, saving local orangutans -- and creating a thrilling blueprint for restoring fragile ecosystems.
Amazing the system he put in place to regrow the forest. The high tech aspect was cool, using satellites and ultra-lights to monitor every tree.

I wonder how the resulting rainforest compares to a natural one? Looks like this one is more productive or at least produces more goods that are useful to humans. Could the productivity of other forest by increased as well with human help?

I am also curious how the economics work. How much money is needed up front to make this work? If multi-cropping is more productive than mono-cropping, then why doesn't everyone do it? Is it that it is more complex and requires greater knowledge of how to implement it, or that it requires cheaper labor to be profitable or something else? If sugar palms yield three times more sugar per acre than any other crop, then why aren't they used more often for biofuels?

I was also amazed that they could affect the climate that much, lowering air temperature by 3-5 degrees and increasing rainfall 25%. I wonder if water scarcity can be reduced in other parts of the world by changing the vegetation as well?

via TED

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