Planting trees and other plants in response to deforestation and climate change seems like a simple act, but in arid conditions, it can be quite a challenge. An international company with headquarters in the Netherlands may have come up with a solution in the form of the Cocoon, a biodegradable vessel made from paper pulp and crop byproducts that promises to support seedlings during their most vulnerable stage of development. Perhaps the best part about the Cocoon is its success rate: trees planted with the biodegradable wrapping in more than 12 countries have a survival rate up to 95 percent.
The Cocoon has two primary benefits to the seedlings it houses: a safe shelter from the harsh surrounding environment and an adequate water supply to develop healthy roots during its first year. The cylindrical shelter also protects seedlings from becoming lunch for small animals, as its high walls surround the tiny plant. The process results in strong adolescent trees that do not require external irrigation, and the Cocoon disintegrates into the surrounding soil as the tree’s root structure expands.
Before planting, the Cocoon looks a bit like a bundt cake pan made from cardboard, which is to say it’s pretty plain. The biodegradable shell has super powers, though. The material is made from a variety of organic materials that the Food and Drug Administration has deemed safe for the soil, and when planted, the Cocoon creates a moat-like reservoir that ensures seedlings have all the moisture they need to thrive and grow. The addition of mycorrhizal fungi, which is present in 90 percent of the world’s forests, supports the root systems’ ability to absorb moisture and also enhance the surrounding substrate by releasing enzymes that contribute vital nutrients.
Land Life Company, which produces the Cocoon, has partnered with tree-planting programs in 12 countries to help bring back plant life where it has been lost, including recently launched efforts in Peru and Chile. Other programs are already up and running in North America, Mexico, Europe, Africa, and Australia. Land Life works with local nurseries to source high quality seedlings best suited to the environment in which they will be planted, for a better chance at long-term growth of strong, independent trees. Because the Cocoon is a self-contained support system that requires little maintenance, this approach is more cost effective than traditional tree planting techniques. Land Life says the Cocoon is 10 times cheaper, in fact. That means this method can plant a lot more trees for the same budget as traditional planting methods.
Images via Land Life Company