Technologies for Ecological Restoration and Conservation of Forests
Technologies to re-establish trees and shrubs in (sub)tropical seasonal dry climates
OmniVerdi Arka - A cube of compost+binder containing seeds, for manual planting in the field, as a very cheap, pratical and verifiable method for direct-sowing for reforestation and forest restoration.
OmniVerdi Riza - A degradable long and narrow seedling bag, to produce seedlings with very long tap roots and many dormant secondary roots, in an easy and cheap way.
OmniVerdi Sigma - A revolutionary nursery system designed especially for the OmniVerdi Riza, easy and affordable to build, with focus on improved seedling logistics.
OmniVerdi Skavo - A low-tech tool designed to dig the narrow deep planting holes needed to plant the long rooted seedlings, with little effort and without the hole collapsing during digging and planting.
OmniVerdi Omega - An artificial soilcrust designed to increase seedling survival in field conditions, decrease post-planting maintenance costs and facilitate field monitoring.
Enabling forest and woodland restoration, significantly.
Using a combination of the OmniVerdi technlogies enables you to:
- Establishing woody species in dry climates without the need to irrigate after planting
- Produce in an easy way cheap seedlings with very long roots and many secondary dormant roots
- Improve significantly the overall project logistics; less weight to transport and favourable timeline
- Plant the seedlings months before the rainy season, when labour is easier available and roads are dry
- Decrease to nearly zero the transplant chock for the seedling, preserving well its ability to uptake water
- Easy and cheap way to dig the narrow deep planting holes without them collapsing while planting
- Decrease significantly the amount of water needed for planting
- Decrease the competition with herbaceous vegetation and eliminate the need of weeding
- Decentralize significantly the income generation and involve majority of nearby communities
- Facilitate field monitoring
- Decrease overall project costs significantly
- Scale up very easily to any size imaginable
All those benefits come with a price of course, but actually a very small price; the total cost to establish a tree/shrub using the Riza+Sigma+Skavo is for example in Madagascar 0,50 USD and in Brazil 1,40 USD, included the following:
- Riza seedling bag,
- 1lt substrate,
- labour to fill the bag,
- nursery construction and installations depreciation,
- seed pre-sowing treatments and sowing labour,
- nursery care and water,
- 15% seedling outfall,
- transport to and in the field,
- planting labour,
- 10% replant,
- one year of maintenance and
- 30% profit/buffer for the executing entity.
These numbers are calculated for projects with minimum 1 million seedlings within 5years, project area below 200km² and where soils do not contain excessive rocks.
Adding the Omega to each planting hole would add only 0,15 to 0,45usd, included: materials, transport and installation labour.
OmniVerdi develops also alternative food and income generating production systems for rural areas, all targeting to decrease the pressure over ecosystems mainly by replacing the slash-and-burn method with intensive and sustainable production systems. One of these systems is the hydroponic flow soil bed which reduces up to 90% the water needed to produce nearly everything; vegetables, pulses, grains, fruits, tubers, fibres, herbs, etc. Its does not depend on local soil, nor local climate, to produce year-round. It does not depend on local soil or climate, very easy and cheap to build and can be run even without electricity. If properly managed about 200m² of these beds can provide an average family with enough food and some income, year-round. Recommended is to plant these beds with a mixed crop permaculture, where each family can choose what and when they plant. Pest management will be needed because crops can be grown year-round.
The name OmniVerdi is derived from Latin and Greek, meaning “Becoming green in all places”.
Who is behind it all?
The development of the OmniVerdi technologies is done by Pieter Vranckx. Born in Belgium, he believed that by studying tropical agriculture engineering, in 1997 in the Netherlands, he could contribute better to the preservation of nature by focusing on sustainable and intensified agriculture to decrease pressure over still remaining preserved areas.
He accumulated two decades of experience in botanical field work, agroforestry implementation, seed harvest, seedling production, tree establishment in semiarid conditions, international trade and logistics, industrial processing equipment creation and building. He is fluent in English, Portuguese and Dutch, almost fluent in Malagasy, Spanish and French, moderate knowledge of German. Projects, research and international trade took him already to 43 different countries.
Currently there are several projects using the OmniVerdi technologies already.
Northeast Brazil, Caatinga, tropical seasonal dry forest, PARNA Catimbau
Field experiments: in May 2018 an experiment was installed to evaluate the effects of the Omega and the survival of the Riza seedlings planted without any aid.
Riza nurseries: 3 nurseries produced about 10 000 Riza seedlings of 15 local species, and experimental plots were planted in May 2019 designed and implemented by several Brazilian and German universities, with about 20 master's and PhD candidates involved.
Skavo use: successful planting was done with the latest Skavo version for almost 2000 seedlings, at an average of 5 minute total planting time per tree included preparing the planting spot, digging the hole and planting the seedling.
South West Madagascar
A OmniVerdi nursery was build North of Toliara, Atsimo Andrefana, to produce the several types of seedlings for reforestation and forest restoration of the Mikea, Ranobe and Zombitse forests. The Riza seedlings can be planted in during the dry season in September and the long-rooted bare-root seedlings will have to be planted during the rainy season in February. Over 300 000 seedlings are currently growing of >50 species, of which many on the IUCN Red List.
OmniVerdi would have started in august 2019 with about 1000 women to sew by hand the Riza seedling bags. Several small sewing ateliers will be set up in the neighborhoods of Toliara where they can come and go when then wish to sew and earn some daily extra income. But the container with all the project materials was stuck in the Port of Tulear from July 2019 to april 2020, and even after 9 months of negotiations at highest level there was no tax-reduction obtained. OmniVerdi made an enormous sacrifice to recover the project materials, which are to boost reforestation and forest restoration in Madagascar, an extremely urgent matter. In May 2020 finally the sewing of the Riza bags could start and 125 women were employed which sewed 125 000 bags in 5 weeks time.
OmniVerdi has strongly invested since 2019 in alternative fuel sources such as biomass briquettes made from annually renewable biomass to replace the wood charcoal and firewood that is currently sourced from native vegetation often inside protected areas. Decentralized massive production of these biomass briquettes, as soon as possible, can contribute significantly to the conservation of the remaining forests in Madagascar in the short term, as well as improve success rates in reforestation and forest restoration.
OmniVerdi has built North of Toliara a test facility to convert organic city waste into briquettes or biochar. Unfortunately the project was discontinued due to lack of funds to improve the carbonisation furnace. Also the quantity of organic waste from the city is far too little for a feasible level of briquettes, especially when wood charcoal is extremely cheap and thereby hard to compete with.
In February 2021 the composting facility in Sakaraha started, converting savanna grasses into supreme compost, built by OmniVerdi, run by local women's associations. Target for 2021 is 2500 tonnes compost, destined for the Arka production.
Starting operations in April 2021 is the facility close to the National Park Isalo that will convert annually renewable biomass into briquettes by manual pressing, employing 100s of people. About 500 farmer families are being selected for an out-growers scheme that will rehabilitate the degraded land by growing annual legume green manure shrubs, of which part of the biomass is harvested for briquette production. Target for 2021 is 400 tonnes of briquettes only as a small test and initiating rehabilitation of soil on 1500 Ha. The facility capacity will be 25 000 tonnes annually.
Still in the pipeline for future times is an other facility to convert savanna grasses into biochar, aiming to reduce savanna fires in and arround the protected areas by creating a value chain for the savanna grass biomass. In the absence of annual fires natural regeneration has better chances. OmniVerdi aims to use the biochar in combination with soil improving shrub species to rehabilitate the soil for agricultural production in agroforestry systems, where some areas can be set aside and enriched with endemic species to evolve into natural forest after many decades.
OmniVerdi has currently set up a seed bank for the dry forests of SW Madagascar, containing over 12 million seeds of >100 species. We can supply seeds with advice to existing reforestation and restoration initiatives in SW Madagascar.