The Sahara Forest Project was created by biomimicry architect Michael Pawlyn, Seawater Greenhouse designer Charlie Paton, and structural engineer Bill Watts. In 2009, the trio joined forces with Bellona, an international environmental NGO based in Norway, and presented their proposal at COP15 in December 2009. The positive feedback led to more presentations, including one in Oslo last June, attended by Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. The King was so impressed with the project that he invited the SFP team to Jordan in October to discuss a feasibility study, opening the door for the recent agreement.
The SFP team will conduct comprehensive studies this year and develop a demonstration center in 2012. Commercial development is likely to start in 2015. According to the team, facilities like the one in Aqaba have the potential for huge environmental benefits. They can alleviate food and water shortage, produce biofuels without competing with food production, and contribute to forestation efforts in desert lands. Plus, the vegetation production will absorb carbon dioxide and drive down CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.
While setbacks and complications are sure to arise, it’s thrilling to see such a large-scale, incredibly innovative project get off to a fast start.
Images © Sahara Forest Project