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Ecosystem Restoration and Nature Based Solutions

Roggebotstaete - The Netherlands

The Roggebotstaete estate originated on the former nursery of the National Office for IJsselmeerpolders. In the 90s of the last century, it was decided to divest half of the nursery, 52 ha, and turn it into an ecological estate. Various interventions have been made to support nature development in the area. Now, in 2021, Roggebotstaete is on the threshold of a transition. There is a vision for the development of living and recreation. As a result, there is a need for a landscape framework in which the current functions find a place and new functions can develop integrally. The framework must form the basis for a robust green-blue structure that matches the landscape identity and character of the place. Important starting points for the new development are increasing biodiversity, increasing resilience to climate change, and integrating recreational and small-scale living.

This publication is merely a small part of many more developments to come throughout the estate, but we are delighted to share the first big steps. The full development of a ceremonial square and the glamping area, embraced by Biodiverse wooded berms, the permanent tiny houses and the largescale market garden area. Still, to come; the diversification of the forested areas, adding abundant edges, a new food forest, developing interconnected riparian zones, a new marshland, hedges and edges throughout and much more. The core goal of the Roggebotstaete Foundation is to develop an area where nature and human action are in balance, for now, and in the future, where (Bio)diversity is in the lead.

Want to know more about events, retreats or workshops? Yugen Forest , Campfire Stories

Spider Island - Egypt

​A central Aquatic ecosystem growth unit for building a new robust ecosystem. Through the purification of the stagnant lake water with shaded moving parts, covered with Halophytes, and polycultures to rebuild a robust aquatic ecosystem and boost fish production.

  • Reducing and stabilizing water temperatures, by creating shade with plants;

  • Increase oxygen levels due to lower water temperature and increased primary carbon production;

  • Reducing salinity and nutrients levels and building fertile soils from lake sediments by ecological growth, of halophytes and salt-tolerant crops;

  • Reduction of heavy metal pollution out of the soils by biomass growth

  • Building a robust and biodiverse aquatic ecosystem. With a full kickstart of the food web to increase and stabilize sustainable fish production.

Saline Farms - Sinai

System designs for food production, desalination and water-harvesting in an extreme Arid Climate. Regenerating an ecosystem of scale will create a huge amount of benefits for local communities: increasing food, freshwater, jobs, peaceful lives and a sustainable future. Commissioned by the Weather makers as part of a larger holistic, multidimensional, symbiotic approach for ecological regeneration in the Sinai.

Re-greening the desert in a sustainable matter is feasible but is definitely not easy, primarily because of the scarcity of available water. However, several successful examples and practical methods of restoration are available. There are a number of principles that will enhance infiltration of water, increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, and create microclimates in well-established poly-cultures.

Szczecin Lagoon Eco Island - Poland

For hundreds of years dredging companies have been digging ship canals and shipping lanes deep into sea beds. Soil from these has been dumped on land and shorelines. In 2018 Southwoods was asked to create an island sanctuary with dredged materials from a marine way widening project. 1.25 kilometres wide, the eco-island has 6 major habitat areas and an array of shorelines, wetlands, freshwater ponds, rookery trees, nest boxes, and a multilayered canopy of deciduous trees and shrubs.  A second two-kilometre island is planned to begin creating a series of five estuary sanctuaries from otherwise. 

Benefits of the island are:

  • Ecological

  • a protected habitat for threatened and declining species.

  • Resources for migrating birds in the European flyway

  • Isolated, varied, and protected shoreline habitat

  • Wetlands for freshwater flora and fauna

  • Social

  • Marine sanctuary offering habitat and recreational wildlife observation

  • Improved public perception of corporate ethics and intention

  • Improved perception of national priorities for ecological restoration

  • Economic

  • restored ecosystem services for fisheries and sports fishing.

  • a model strategy for repurposing dredged materials for long term storage.

  • reduced cost in dredging projects

Oliveira de Condé - Portugal

For many centuries the hills of Portugal were terraced for food production by small villages and farms. In the past decades, Eucalyptus plantations have destroyed the terrace systems and the natural irrigation canals. United Designers was hired to design solutions to rebuild the hydrology and forest ecology for a long term homestead. Massive eucalyptus fires have burned large areas of the country. 

Returning the land to ancient forestry practices reduces fire risk, creates long-standing resources, and flowing streams. Along with the ancient terraces are the stone buildings from past farms.  This place was farmland. It did grow bountiful crops in the past. It can again and support the community with fresh food, nuts, fruit, and many products such as cork and wood. Rebuilding these product lines of the land needs only a plan to create new nutrient richness of the soil. 

The unattended stream bed runs freely on the west border, where it once powered  mill and filled the terrace canals across the steep slopes. An ecological balance production system with the farmers' and stewards will ensure a legacy of abundance.

West Molokai - Hawaii

By the request and engagement of Walter Ritte, support for this assessment and report was provided by the Molokai Pule O’o, Trisha Kehaulani Watson of Aina Mo Hana, with assistance from Aloha Aina Fellows of the Molokai Community College. 

The people of Molokai have a special moment in their history as they are being presented with an opportunity to buy back over 57,000 acres of privatized land and bring it back into the public domain. The purchase of the land will be a bellwether for the entire region and inspiration to restore health to ravaged landscapes while maintaining and building economic vitality. It will definitely put Molokai on the ecological restoration radar. A definite need in these times of dire ecological loss.

Measurable Restoration Outcomes, Goals, and Priorities:

  • Reduced silt or near silt-free water quality at all shoreline river outlets.

  • Increased water infiltration to provide aquifer regeneration and springs in lower elevations and in the reefs.

  • Soil stabilization in all watersheds and steep slopes. 

  • Reforested and grassed slopes in restored areas for harvest and habitat.

  • Restored and healthy reefs and a larger fishery for Molokai people.

  • Access to quality and resilient natural resources.

  • Improved water quality and availability for forests and homesteads. 

  • Reduced deer damage to native habitat, soils, and ecology.

  • Increased opportunity for eco-tourism in stabilized gulches. 

  • Culturally and historically modelled structures for interest and support of good practices.

  • Preparation for sea-level rise and alternative commerce in changing climates.

  • Increased availability of land for an expanding population striving to be self-sufficient

Ecosystem Restoration Camp - Spain

In Southeast Spain is the Altiplano Ecosystem Restoration Camp. It was inspired by John D. Liu and his Green Gold Documentary of China’s Loess Mountains. The camp is a cooperative venture of volunteers, designers, restoration ecologists, GIS experts, and an army of good-natured members of the ERC.  The land is subjected to intermittent heavy rains along with weeks of dry heat. In the past silty clay soil turned to powder if not planted.

Water ran off uncontrolled due to decades of compaction in wheat farming. Efforts are made to follow EU agricultural regulations and provide a harvest for the locals. The plan includes a nursery, lodging, kitchen facilities, and a training centre. All plants are on contour surrounding swales and berms installed to store and infiltrate heavy rains and spring run-off.

Finca Arboreden - Costa Rica

Arboreden is designed to have completed homesteads with food forests, annual gardens, hoop houses, freshwater plumbing, rainwater storage, greywater systems, Solar PV, WiFi, and ecologically supported housing.

In the making for 17 years, Arboreden growers planted 20,000 trees over 10 years for eventual building timber, bamboo, and natural materials. Restored streams from the reforestation supply continuous water flow in once dry streambeds. Southwoods developed the spatial arrangements for lot lines, buildings, fruit trees and production systems.

Each lot collects water, grows a diverse selection of tropical fruits and has a residence located for privacy and good access. As a community, Arboreden has permanent residence, seasonal, residence and a cooperative organization for all to share the bounty from throughout the properties expanding forest.

Shire Post Mint - Arkansas - USA

Situated along the bottomlands of the White River in West Fork, Arkansas, Shire Post Mint is a small, family-run coining operation that specializes in licensed fantasy coinage.

Starting as a backyard hobby in 2001, Shire Post Mint has grown into an internationally recognized company known for attention to detail and a high level of craftsmanship, attaining officially licensed properties including JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings™, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire™, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth™, and much more!

After constructing their new minting workshop, Shire Post reached out to our designers Chase and Tas of Biodesic Strategies to brainstorm ideas for addressing various issues on their landscape while creating a lovely nature experience for visitors. Challenges of flooding and erosion were mitigated by a network of rain gardens and mounds that have since resolved the hydrology issues on site.

The rain gardens were planted with a diverse pallet of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers and are now a certified national wildlife habitat. To complement the rain gardens and fantasy theme of the business, Biodesic also constructed a living willow dome and a food forest strip to add to the magic of this locally owned treasure.

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