Plant your own Forest

The Problem:

The steadily increasing demand for wood as a building material or source of paper and pulp has lead to a drastic reduction of the Earth’s forest cover. Forests carry out essential ecosystem services for the planet. While being home to a vast biodiversity, they also regulate the global climate. Deforestation has negative effects on biodiversity, climate, and the water cycle. It negatively affects agriculture and leads to increased soil erosion. The United Nations estimate that about 13 million hectares of forests are cut down by humans. This is equivalent to the size of Greece. At the same time, however, new forests are being planted, so that the net loss of global forests cover is about 8,9 million hectares annually1.

However, not every act of afforestation is necessarily a positive one. Large scale timber plantations, for example, with one highly dominant tree species, like eucalyptus, are often rather damaging to the environment than beneficial, as they destroy the ecosystem balance. Hardly any biodiversity can be found in these areas, and instead of bringing the water cycle into a balance, the area dries out.

The Solution:

The Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado was devastated when he saw how his homeland has changed throughout his life. The once dense tropical rainforest (Mata Atlantica) he grew up in, has developed into a desert with most animals having left the area. Salgado founded the NGO Instituto Terra, with the aim to replant the entire forest. While this sounds like an impossible idea, within 15 years, over 1 million trees have been planted and the animals are back – even the leopards!

On the other side of the world, the award-winning “forest man of India”, Jadav Payeng, has spent 40 years on replanting a forest on Majuli island. Today, there are elephants, rhinos, tigers, deers and vultures to be found in his 550 hectares big forest. His vision is to stop the erosion of his home island by planting more and more trees and at the same time offer economic advantages by developing a coconut industry.

What can you do:

You do not have to think in these huge dimensions to make change. The engineer Shubhendu Sharma founded the company Afforestt which focuses on creating multilayer forests on urban fallow lands. On a parking lot for six cars, Sharma claims to be able to create a highly biodiverse multistorage forest with 300 trees. He developed a methodology to assess exactly which trees should be planted on which soils and offers remote soil testing to provide a growing plan for any fallow land anywhere in the world.

For planting a forest, you can fertilize the soil with locally produced organic waste material – like coconut shells, sawdust or litter. Anywhere where there is a small piece of empty land – a backyard, slope, unused parking lot – a small forest can grow. Before you start planting, it is of course necessary to ask the owner of the piece of land (which is often the city administration) for permission. There are some NGOs like Plant for the Planet which plant trees for you for just a small donation.

The easiest method for doing it yourself is to use seedbombs. These small bags filled with a seed mix can be thrown basically anywhere and also increase urban biodiversity, when the right mix is used.

These actions can increase the urban biodiversity, improve air and water quality, and in some cases even provide food items growing in the small forest.

You just have to check which tree species naturally originate from your region. Then pick several species which all have different heights when fully grown. In this way, you can plant your own multistorage forest and do your part to protect the climate and make cities greener and cleaner.

Further information to be found under:


Picture with courtesy of Sole Perez

Fix walls with the floor

Neverland – Pallets Structure


I have seen a lot of up-cycled projects with wood shipping pallets over the years, and more often than not they are ugly, but totally useful. Pallets are great for the “DIYer” because they are cheap and easy to work with, but you need to pay attention to what you are catching. At a glance, wood pallets are cheap wood that most people would not bother using for kindling, let alone make a table out of one. Oddly, that’s really the appeal of them. They’re essentially “Lego” for adults because they can be turned into just about anything with minimal effort.

It is also about up-cycling and using materials that are already out there for new and creative uses. You can usually grab them for free from old warehouses and shipping areas. Since most pallets are about the same size (Figure 1), you can find directions online and get to building something without really knowing anything about woodworking.

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First of all, you need to watch what you are doing with pallets because, they get exposed to everything such as harsh chemicals and bugs in their journeys, so it is important to pay attention to what you are looking for. That said, pallets are excellent for outdoor projects. If you can find pallets with a “HT” (heat treated) stamp on them that means they are free of bugs, but it also means the wood may have been treated with chemicals. The nicest pallets seem to come from dry goods industries. They’re usually shipping a lightweight, dry product, so there is no spillage or stains to worry about.

It is entirely possible to grab pallets that are safe, but it is just as likely you will grab one covered in chemicals. So, if you can trace the history you are better off. Picking up any reclaimed wood is going to come with a set of dangers, so be smart and keep your eyes out for signs of contaminants. Shipping pallets make for easy weekend projects for regardless of your skill, and when you choose the right ones they will last a surprisingly long time.


How could be made

In order to build all the structure we need fourteen pallets, preferably EUR Pallets (see Figure 1) to have all of them with the same measures. If it is not possible to find all the same type, it could be problems how to manage them, but I believe the problems will be not very hard to solve. Secondly, all the project, I have made, is based on the European standard measures, then using a different type of pallets, it will change also the dimensions of the structure.

Among the fourteen pallets mentioned before, twelve of them should be disassembled, in fact, into pallets used for the walls, three pieces of wooden boards must to be take off to allow the air enters in the structure and moves the windmill inside (Figure 2;Figure 3).

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We will disassemble the pallets used in the walls and then fill the gaps of the pallets used for the floor and the roof of the structure. So the final result of them should be like the follow Figure 4. That is how pallets should be after filling them, like it was a stage. These full pallets will serve to make the structure floor and roof. If the surface of a single pallets is not enough we could join different pallets in order to obtain a large surface.

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To make the walls we must first join the pallets using the board obtain from other pallets and then adapting them to the structure. The next step is to place them in the floor to brace it and start to fixing it. Should be used some metal brackets and screws wherever you can (Figure 5). The same operation is used to join the walls with the roof. There will be also another part on the top of the roof to fix the solar panel, but we will discuss about it in the next chapters.

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