The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose – Isaiah 35 v. 1

That man is responsible for the deserts is not disputed. After God, ‘out of the ground, made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food’ man was placed in the Garden of Eden specifically to till it and to guard it.

Just when the avarice of man caused the land to be stripped, slashed and burned, for his own notions of what he could do with it, matters not. He is still doing it. Vast tracts of hitherto fertile land are being lost every year to the encroaching desert as trees are removed and the consequent erosion prevents proper remedial husbandry.

For many decades schemes to reverse the spread of deserts have absorbed millions of money, oceans of water, and lots of research. Some have been spectacularly successful but none, so far, have been self-perpetuating. More than fifty years ago Libya had vast irrigated, circular, fields in the desert. Whether any have survived revolution in that country would be doubtful, they certainly did not naturally expand and, without the protection of trees, the desert would reclaim them as soon as the irrigation taps were turned off.

Dubai has announced plans to build the first rainforest in the Middle East by 2020. Texas, howl your eyes out, – ‘everything is big in Dubai’.  It is also very controversial. Environmentalists are dismayed; this project will wreck government efforts to control water and energy consumption. Already average water consumption in the United Arab Emirates, per person, is 550 litres daily, almost four times the UK average. In the more luxurious neighbourhoods, with lawns and golf courses, that consumption reaches 1700 litres per person per day!  Under a massive dome, the rainforest will feature zip lines and walkways through the canopy, a climbing wall and a spa. Little wonder the Emirates government has offered a £3 million prize to any research team that comes up with a method of increasing rainfall.

Wonderfully, nature itself ensures that not all is lost. Professor Hongbin Yu of the University of Maryland has published results of studying the data obtained by the satellite Calypso launched in 2006. Computer analysis of the vertical structure of the yellow dust plumes visible from space between the Sahara and the Amazon rainforest, spanning 3000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, show that 182 million tons of dust is eroded each year (on average, over 2007 -2013) from the Sahara. Much falls in the ocean but 28 million tons are deposited in the Amazon Basin, the largest rainforest on the planet. A further 43 million tons falls in the Caribbean.

Approximately balancing the erosion within the Amazon Basin through rainfall run-off and flooding, the Sahara fallout, lifted from long dried up lake and river beds, has an enhanced phosphorus content improving the plant nutrition balance of the soil in the most fertile regions on earth.

Switch from the macro to the micro management of the environment. All of this gives point to the growing use of the expression ‘the urban forest’ in professional and academic concerns about the provision of attractive and environmentally beneficial green urban spaces.

From its inception in 1992, GreenBlue Urban (formerly Greenleaf) has conducted research into the best way to replicate, in the challenging urban concrete jungle, the uncompacted root media in which trees can thrive.

Bridging the dividing line between horticulture and engineering, systems have been developed and are currently being enhanced, to reconcile the requirements of attractive amenities with public access and modern communication and utility deliverance conduits, heavy traffic and environmental benefits.

To further this great objective GreenBlue Urban Ltd are pleased to support and sponsor the activities of tree welfare campaigners such as The Arboricultural Association, the Trees and Design Action Group and University research programs.

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