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September 2016

Macadam Gardens: planting vegetables on roofs in France

in Agriculture by
visit on roof

You will not say that you are on the roof of a building. On the top of the Clinique Pasteur in Toulouse, we are surrounded by strawberries, salads and flowers. “The vegetable garden at the service of the enterprise.” That’s the idea that germinated with Macadam Gardens. Since then, the designers are having their heads in the clouds and grow vegetables on rooftops in France. Read more

Songhaï Centre in Benin is inspiring many countries

in Agriculture by

This is a project of shared and sustainable management of agricultural and natural areas on the outskirts of urban centres. Launched in 1999, the Songhai Centre Atagara – Parakou in Benin is a success story. Discovery. Read more

Tree Cloning To Combat Global Warming

in Environment by

Sequoia trees are the living relics of power and mystery of ancient age. Standing majestically as hoary sentinels in the Sequoia National Park in California, these trees could be the key to effective reforesting of the planet to combat global warming.


In this vein, a group of experts from the non-profit organization Archangel Ancient Tree Archive have decided to study them, archive their genetics and…clone them.

The aim behind is to reforest the planet with solid trees that have proven to stand firm through ages, surviving natural calamities.

Already, more than 170 tree species have been cloned in this manner while more than 300,000 cloned trees have been planted around the world, according to the organization.

The Sequoia is a type of redwood coniferous tree found exclusively in the Northern California coastal forests as well as in the Southwestern part of Oregon in the United States.

Some of them are almost 100m tall and 3,000 years old. The average circumference of their trunk is 8m, making them perfect to absorb a large amount of carbon dioxide.

The region is equally home to the Sequoia National Park renowned for its giant Sequoia trees and especially, the legendary General Sherman tree which is the world’s largest tree.

The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive team has already experimented cloning the Sequoia, reversing the theories of other scientific experts who claimed that same could not be carried out.

The cloning experimentation was rendered possible through funds from the National Tree Trust as well as private donors.

Jacob Milarch, the director of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, declared that:

We feel like if it’s lived for 3,000 years, maybe their genetics is something special there

Volunteer climbers helped to clip the tips of the youngest branches. The cuttings were then sent to the Archangel’s Michigan Laboratory to be cloned. Saplings that do grow have to be monitored indoors for several years before being finally ready to put into soil.

By replicating the growth genetics of the thousands years old Sequoia, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive created a micro-propagation system.

Thousands of cloned saplings are now being nurtured for at The Copemish- a warehouse in Michigan. They all have the DNA of the majestic Sequoia tree. Growing rapidly, most of them are ready to be planted.

By the end of this year, 1,000 cloned saplings of Sequoia and redwood will be planted in the region of Oregon. This area was chosen for its dampness to increase the possibility of growth of the trees in the natural environment.


The first “zero energy, zero emissions, zero waste” house in Stuttgart

in Renewable Energy by

Perched on a small hill in Baden-Württemberg, this Aktivhaus (active house), designed by architect Werner Sobek, produces two times more energy than it consumes. The “triple zero” house is the pride of Stuttgart, Germany. Read more

Dordogne : The rebirth of a ghost village thanks to ecology

in Permaculture by
Source :

The small village of Saint-Pierre-de-Frugie in Dordogne, France, had the abandoned look of a village of the Far West. Time was ticking slowly until Gilbert Chabaud, elected mayor of the region, decided to use ecological means to breathe life into the dying village. Read more

Better Cotton Initiative: Blue jeans go green

in Sustainable economy by
Blue to green

Imagine an eco-conscious world where we don’t need thousands of liters of water to wash out a blue jean, astronomical amounts of toxic dyes to print this famous blue or tons of sand thrown by high-pressure to make it older, a very dangerous process for workers. Well for nearly three years now, this has been possible! Read more

World’s first zero-emission hydrogen-powered train in Germany

in Transportation by

Coradia iLint. This is a non-polluting and non-electric train unveiled by French train construction company Alstom at InnoTrans, an international trade fair for transport technology. Germany is set to host this world’s first zero-emission, hydrogen passenger train in 2017. Read more

Three coastal countries join forces to protect ocean waters

in Environment/Sustainable development by

Two weeks ago in the Galápagos, the presidents of Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia announced an agreement to enhance the protection of marine life by expanding their marine reserves around Galapagos, Malpelo, and Cocos.

Along with Panama’s Coiba National Park, the three protected areas make up the world’s densest cluster of UNESCO Marine World Heritage Sites. Currently, only 2,8% of the world ocean is protected, and less than 1% of it, is a marine reserve, which implies that activities such as fishing are prohibited.

The project, which aspires to meet United Nations target of protecting 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020, is a pivotal moment in the history of sustainable development and ocean management.

We are talking about some of the most biodiverse ocean waters, where “sharks, turtles, rays, whales, seabirds, tuna and billfish surge back and forth in response to seasonal changes in water temperature and food availability”, as Scott Henderson, vice president of Conservation International (CI)’s Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape program points out in an interview for Human Nature.


In the same interview, he further explains that these areas “have registered the highest density of sharks recorded anywhere on Earth and some of the highest fish biomass (total weight per unit area) ever recorded”.

But the triumphant agreement in Galápagos isn’t vital only for the corals, the turtles, the penguins, the sea lions, the dolphins and the whales of the area. It’s a strategic movement also for the region’s economic growth and the improvement of the livelihood of industrial fishermen, who can benefit from the abundant spillover on the reserve boundaries.

In practice, the agreement raises the marine reserves of the three nations to 83,600 square miles. As stated in National Geographic’s article by Jane Braxton Little, “Ecuador and Costa Rica also agreed to delineate the boundaries of their national waters, exchanging nautical charts in a step toward protecting the underwater ‘highways’ used by sharks, sea turtles, and other migrating marine life”.

Following National Geographic’s report, Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos pledged to double the size of one of the largest no-fishing zones in the region — the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, established 300 miles off the mainland.

In an effort to protect white-tip sharks, whale and hammerhead sharks, Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís committed to expanding Cocos Island National Park by nearly 4,000 square miles — an action that will increase by four times the area where fishing is restricted. Last but not least, under the new boundary maps, Ecuador’s revised marine territory is now five times larger than its continental territory.


Beyond doubt the agreement among these three nations is an historic moment, as “it’s the first time that three presidents got together to expand protections in their neighboring waters” according to Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Now that the path is set, we can only wish that other countries will follow the steps of these three leaders.

The Keyhole Garden: A family garden to combat malnutrition

in Agriculture by

The “Keyhole Garden” is an innovative gardening technique being used to combat malnutrition in impoverished regions worldwide. It is proving to be particularly effective in arid areas such as Uganda, Lesotho or Guatemala.


The “Keyhole Garden” is a revolutionary concept of gardening initially created by charitable institutions to help poor families and especially those suffering from malnutrition.

The “Keyhole Garden” is a small vegetable garden simple and easy to build even in confined spaces. It has a raised circular shape surrounded by a wall made up of rocks and a pit in the center serving as a common compost and water dispenser.

Made of straws, branches or even used cans, the substrates ensure a slow and homogeneous diffusion of nutrients.

These vegetable gardens are built near houses, making them very accessible and sparing owners the need to travel great distances to take care of their plants and crops. The fact that they are built on an elevated level equally makes them less prone to be destroyed by heavy rains or floods.

The “Keyhole Garden” is a creative way to try to get families out of poverty using resources readily available but also on what we have always-waste.

With this type of garden, waste is given a new life. Peeling of fruits and vegetables or even waste water are deposited in the central pit. While disintegrating, they turn into compost and directly provide nutrients to the soil of the garden.

A great variety of plants, vegetables and fruit can spring from that little piece of land. Impoverished families have adequate and proper food handy while children, formerly malnourished, can grow up healthily with these new fresh products enriching their diet.

Besides, families having a surplus of food crops may sell them achieving revenue to pay for other expenses.

In Guatemala, the “Keyhole Garden” has become the backbone for many vulnerable families consisting of abandoned or widowed mothers having the huge responsibility of raising their children alone.


Charitable institutions, such as Food for the Hungry, is doing the extra mile by offering concerned families recipes and cooking classes as well.

This is a great concept to give the latter a platform to share their knowledge and know-how. As groups, the families having the “Keyhole Garden” support each other, putting what they learn into practice.

AbzeSolar: Lighting the path of African women

in Renewable Energy by

She is a Princess. But far from staying in a Castle, the Chief Executive Officer of AbzeSolar is helping women and youngsters in her country. Let’s meet Her Royal Highness Princess Abzeita Djigma of Burkina Faso who founded the MAMA-LIGHT® initiative. Read more

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