New biotech matches trees to the environment and eco-system
The technology provides information on which trees will thrive best in local conditions
Spotted: Much has been made of tree planting as a solution for climate change. But before a single tree can be planted, landscape planners must make a fundamental decision: what species of tree will be planted where. Typically, this choice has been guided either by short-term planting trials or by past observations. Both of these methods are unreliable.
What seems like a simple question is complicated by several factors. Firstly, there is a large amount of genetic diversity within tree species. As a result, different varieties of the same species might be more or less suitable for a particular project depending on the precise local conditions. Moreover, environmental changes—such as soil depletion—mean that the success of a species in the past is not a reliable predictor of success in the future. As a result of these complexities, it’s no surprise that many planners resort to using a number of well-known non-native species. This in turn can have knock-on negative effects on biodiversity.
Now, new biotech from reforestation company Spades makes the process of tree selection more accurate and scientific. The technology—called Ecofit—triangulates local environmental conditions with the characteristics of different tree species to find an ideal match. Ecofit uses tree biopsies, soil tests, and climate data to rate a given species’ fitness for a given location. The factors considered include light, water, soil, nutrients, and temperature.
“Serious climate mitigation requires serious investment, which requires serious risk mitigation. Ecofit is the only testing method to predict tree success,” explains Raymond Menard, CEO and Founder of Spades. “The critical win is to have trees thrive, not just survive. Even if an apple tree grows only 10% more apples, it can be the difference between profit and loss.”
The Ecofit technology has been lab-tested on over 400 tree species in 30 global ecosystems – from deserts to tropical rainforests. It is hoped that the ability to effectively select tree species will improve investor returns, mitigate climate change, and save habitats.
Reforestation has become a hot topic as it is used to prevent a hot climate. Recent innovations spotted by Springwise include seed-spreading drones, and a tree-planting app that uses a subscription model.
Written By: Matthew Hempstead
26th January 2022