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Community mangrove restoration in Madagascar

Mangrove swamps are the single most efficient form of forest when it comes to carbon sequestration. I’ve detailed exactly why in previous posts. They also stabilise coastlines, forming a buffer against storms and floods. They serve as nurseries to small fish. Like many environments in the ‘riparian zone’ between land and water, they are very […]

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An update on the Great Green Wall

One of the world’s more ambitious climate change projects is the Great Green Wall, an 8,000km band of trees and plants that crosses the whole of the African continent. It’s central aim is to halt the advance of the desert, but in the process it will create green jobs, protect the soil, and keep people […]

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Spread the word about soil

Last week was soil week on the blog, and a few of you mentioned by email or on posts that more people ought to know about soil and the crisis of global soil loss. I agree, so I’ve pulled all the content from the last few days together. I had a lot more than I […]

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How to protect the soil

When land is planted with crops, those are harvested and the land is left bare. That’s something that never happens in nature. Under natural conditions there’s always something covering the ground. Soil is never dug over in nature either. Animals and birds might scratch around and occasionally bury things, but they never turn over a […]

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How soil is lost

‘Common as dirt’ is, so I am told, an expression that has many international equivalents. What could be more easily obtainable than earth? And for most of us, it is indeed common. After all, soil is one of the reasons why humanity is where it is. You want to build towns and cities in places […]

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What is soil anyway?

Soil is the very outer layer of the earth’s crust. Its thickness depends on where you are, but generally speaking it’s the top 1.2 metres that we’re talking about – a layer of thicker subsoil iced with six inches of darker, richer topsoil. Soil isn’t any one thing, as you can see from a handful […]

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The most overlooked thing in the world

It’s soil week on the blog – a whole week on soil, what it is, and why it matters.

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What is biophilic design?

Consider a modern big box store: fluorescent strip lights hang from the ceiling on wires, casting a stark white light over the serried ranks of shelves. Air conditioning vents jut from a featureless grey metal roof, maintaining a constant temperature and a largely odourless environment. Beyond the first aisle, there are no windows, no views […]

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The citizen gardeners re-greening Paris

This summer the authorities in Paris hatched an imaginative new scheme. The city doesn’t have the ‘lungs’ that some other cities have, such as Central Park in New York or the royal parks in London, and its problems with traffic and air pollution are well known. Faced with the challenge of inadequate green space, they […]

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Our small vertical world

The earth is so vast, how could human activity possibly damage it? That’s a sentiment I hear from time to time, usually in the local paper or on the radio, occasionally from friends. Isn’t it a bit arrogant to think that we little humans can affect a whole planet? I heard an argument along these […]

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