This article discusses how plants and animals are teaching scientists to fight climate change. In the emerging field of biomimicry, scientists and inventors take inspiration from trees, whales and coral.
The immensity of a program to reforest large swaths of the Amazon is hard to conceive — it aims to plant millions of trees over a remote area of Brazil roughly the size of Pennsylvania. If that wasn’t a big enough challenge, there’s also the threat seedlings face from dry spells, non-native plants and the voracious leaf-cutter ant.
Enter a Brazilian industrial engineer and his partners, who think they have a solution. The team calls their invention Nucleario — a circular device that creates a safe oasis for a young tree, complete with mulchy ground cover, a water cistern to conserve rainfall and a wall to keep out invasive plants and creatures.
The invention was recently awarded a $100,000 prize in a worldwide design challenge, sponsored by the Biomimicry Institute, a Missoula, Montana-based nonprofit that supports scientists and inventors who find solutions to man-made problems with designs inspired by the natural world.