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Carabassa, Vicenç; Campo, Julián; Castro, Antonio J.; Patino, Daniela; Kallen, Sven; Andreu, Vicente; Gonzalez, Francisco; Viera, Gustavo; Piazza, Enzo; Kourkoumpas, Dimitrios; Zioga, Aliki; Van Leijen, Gertruud; Lovenstein, Harrie; Alcaniz, Josep Maria
In the current climate change situation, one of the most serious ecological threats is the increase of desertification risks. These risks are especially high in the Mediterranean basin. In this context, the LIFE project ‘The Green Link’ (LIFE15 CCA/ES/000125) was launched with the aim of testing a new planting technology, the Cocoon™, which increases the seedling survival in new plantations. The Cocoon consists of a donut-shaped container basically made of recycled cardboard. The container holds 25 liters of water. Within the central space a seedling is planted. Its design aims to provide water and shelter to the seedling during its first year, the most critical for plant establishment. The Cocoon was tested in seven planting trials, five of them in Spain (Canary Islands, Almería, Catalonia and two in Valencia), one in Calabria (Italy) and one in Ptolemais (Greece). The areas included in the project cover a variety of soils, Mediterranean mesoclimates, vegetation and land uses that allowed testing the effectiveness of the Cocoon methodology in different situations. With the objective of studying its functionality, the survival of the seedlings and their vigor were analyzed along with their growth. The degradation an incorporation to the soil of the Cocoon was also measured. The evolution of the plantation areas was also monitored through data on the structure, composition and vegetation diversity. Additionally, soil characteristics and fauna presence in the restored areas were also monitored. In general, Cocoon has proven its effectiveness by increasing seedling survival compared to the control group, especially under dry growing conditions (low rainfall, soils with low water retention capacity). Cocoon also allowed a higher growth of some species (olive trees, olm oaks and Aleppo pines). However, for other species these differences were less evident. A positive correlation between the rainfall of the site and the degradation degree of the Cocoon device was observed. Overall, and after three years of monitoring, it is possible to state that restoration of the areas shows a positive trend in terms of seedlings survival and vigor as well as vegetation cover and biodiversity.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program