While fog and wind may not be high on many wish lists when it comes to an ideal weather scenario, such conditions are being utilised to encourage reforestation.
A ground-breaking project is underway in Gran Canaria and Portugal (where fog and wind conditions are prevalent) to capture fog water which is used to help combat the perils of drought and deforestation, while helping prevent soil erosion.
Fog water collection is an innovative method of harvesting water from fog via vertical mesh which collects fog water droplets, storing them in a trough below. Atmospheric water vapour condenses from the air onto cold surfaces, becoming water droplets or ‘dew’. This is often spotted on plant leaves.
Deforestation and desertification occur for numerous reasons including agriculture, forest fires, unsustainable forest management and infrastructure projects. It is also caused bya lack of rainwater and therefore groundwater infiltration, which is particularly problematic during droughts.
The €2,185,777 EU-backed project named Life Nieblas (Niebla is Spanish for ‘fog’) was launched in 2020 and is expected to become a four-year initiative to help improve degraded landscape in Gran Canaria and Portugal, using the endemic vegetation of the area.
It is expected that 100 per cent of the project’s water requirements will be met by Fog Water Collectors (FWC) and other objectives will involve the testing of different types of irrigation systems in addition to the water collection.
As an update on the traditional 2D FWC system, an Innovative Fog Water Collector (i-FWC) structure has been deployed boasting greater structural stability, an anti-clogging design, faster water discharge (thanks to the collecting spikes) and higher fog water yield.
The idea for the more advanced i-FWC was generated following field observations at other reforestation sites where condensation was registered on the metal mesh used as protection against herbivores.
The i-FWC structure offers a higher capacity for fog water collection, is more lightweight in comparison to its counterparts and is cheaper to produce and maintain.
The Life Nieblas team has equipped such collectors with an extra layer of PE mosquito mesh which is currently used on the traditional FWC.
One of the major aims of the project is to share results and findings, to engage with different research groups and spark involvement from local communities.
The project is closely aligned with Natura 2000 Network, the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world spanning more than 18 per cent of the EU’s land area and more than eight per cent of its marine territory. Natura 2000 provides a haven for the most valuable and threatened species and habitats in Europe.
A total of 55 per cent of the budget’s €2,185,777 project has been funded by the European Commission (the Life Programme) and 33 per cent by Cabildo de Gran Canaria.
Once the project has reached competition, a plan will be drawn to encompass a framework of objectives for the successful continuity of the reforested habitat, including methodology for conservation and communication.
So far four reforestation methodologies have been tested, 20 traditional FWC have been installed, 9,000 trees have been planted and around 60,000L of water has been collected. In addition, data for forest carbon fluxes is being studied and a life cycle analysis (LCA) method has been produced.
In addition to the fog collectors, a device called the Cocoon has been developed to support new seedlings all over the world. Made from recycled cardboard, the biodegradable container, developed by Amsterdam-based Land Life, surrounds the hole where the seeding is planted and can hold 25L of water. It is buried in the ground and after initially filled manually with water, seedlings in the Canaries and Portugal will be filled with fog water from the collectors.
Dulce Flores, Principal Consultant, Acre Europe, said: “Extreme weather conditions are forcing practitioners in all industries to implement new methods and solutions to cope with today's reality. Land use and Forestry have been and will continue to be areas where initiatives like this are seriously needed.”
Dulce Flores is a Principal Consultant within Acre's European Sustainable Finance team.
Dulce focuses on supporting private equity firms, growth and venture funds, real asset and infrastructure funds to integrate and push forward their agenda on sustainable development, ESG, and impact investing. Prior to joining Acre, Dulce spent 3 years delivering on senior mandates for a selection of financial institutions focused on facilitating the global energy transition through the transaction of carbon credits and renewable energy certificates. She joined Acre in 2020 to deliver on retained mandates for the Sustainable Finance practice within continental Europe.
She holds a BA in Business and a master’s degree in Project Management.