Land Life Company’s Cocoon technology is a 100% biodegradable incubator for young tree seedlings that is used to plant trees in dry and degraded areas using only 25 liters of water per tree one-off.
The Cocoon’s wicking system drips small amounts of water directly to the roots of the seedling – giving the tree enough water to survive but not so much that it becomes dependent on an external water source. As a result, the roots of the seedling grow deep and wide, which increases the independence and resilience of the trees.
The physical structure of the Cocoon is designed to prevent evaporation and the growth of weeds around the base of the tree seedling. This has been shown to eliminate maintenance and mulching costs, and ensures that no water is lost to evaporation or competition from weeds. Further, the seedlings are protected against sunlight, winds and small animals by a tree shelter which connects to the base of the Cocoon. Finally, we add natural fungi to help the root system develop stronger and broader, so that in time the roots can extract enough water from the soil to live independently.
The Cocoon was developed in the Netherlands and, over the last three years (2013-2015), has been successfully demonstrated in varying conditions in over 20 countries, including United States, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, Kenya, South Africa, Australia. These plantings have confirmed the reliability of the Cocoon as a sustainable tree planting technology and have shown that the Cocoon can help increase the survival rate of a young tree in dry areas without using irrigation from 0-20% to 80-95%.
Anywhere we go, we work together with governments, corporates, NGOs, and individual land owners and take a collaborative approach to ensure long term sustainability and benefits both for the people and ecosystems.
Objectives and beneficiaries
The main objective of the Cocoon technology is to restore some of the world’s two billion hectares of degraded land. We believe it is not enough to conserve the land that we have left, but believe that it is necessary and possible to recover large areas of lands that were lost over the years because too much water was extracted, there was overgrazing or other human intervention.
Land Life Company believes that we can do this while conserving water and energy, at a lower cost than any alternative method. These plantings directly benefit the people and animals that live in the area and depend on the water retention, the CO2 absorption and fertile soil for their livelihood. It also affects people in the regions around it, since these benefits are not confined to where the trees are planted.
Strong points of the practice
The Cocoon tree planting technology enables increased survival rates in water restricted areas, where previous planting efforts have resulted in poor outcomes.
Current practices in tree planting involve either using drip irrigation, manual watering, or no maintenance approach. Irrigation is highly resource inefficient, using thousands of liters of water per tree, but ensures high survival rates (80-90%). Manual watering and no maintenance approach use significantly less water, but often enable survival rates of only 0-20%. The Cocoon is an entirely new product, which disrupts this status quo as it enables tree planting with only 25 liters per tree one-off and promises survival rates of 75-85%. Because the water is added at planting, the planting window is expanded: it is now possible to plant outside of the rainy season, which decreases the dependency on rainfall.
On top of that, the Cocoon lowers the total cost of the planting project as it requires no follow-up maintenance. The tree shelter forms a physical barrier to protect the young tree seedling against weeds, insects, and other pests. The technology is 100% biodegradable, made completely out of recycled carton and FDA approved wax. With the Cocoon, no permanent infrastructure is added on the site, we use all organic planting material, and we don’t add any additional fertilizers.
Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation
A successful application of the Cocoon technology to establish trees is anticipated to produce a combination of benefits.
First, trees retain water which causes improved water infiltration/ground water recharge, reducing loss related to runoff. Trees also enhance soil fertility, making it possible for other trees, shrubs, and crops to return to the area. Where trees are close to cities, highways or other infrastructure used by mankind, they help to control dust, which is important for safety and health.
For the birds and other animals in the area, trees are an important source of shelter, food and nesting space, so planting trees will positively impact the biodiversity in any given area. Trees also capture CO2 from the air thus combating climate change and its potential negative effects on mankind.
Replicability potential of the practice
The Cocoon is an easy to use highly scalable product, which is used for various purposes, including nature restoration, landscaping, agriculture, wildfire reforestation, urban forestry, highway planting and in private gardens.
The Cocoon has been used to decrease water consumption and related costs, and improve outcomes in restoration projects in areas such as United States, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, and the Galapagos Islands - in some cases making it possible to save more than 400,000 liters of irrigation water per week. With the water used to irrigate one tree, it is possible to plant 400 Cocoon trees thus the impact on water savings could be immense. We are currently scaling up the size of our plantings, where in different locations we work on hundreds of hectares at a time.
Over the next three years (2016-2018) we expect to further scale our impact and plant millions of trees with this water smart planting technique.
[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.]