Water-system for large trees design sketches

Sketching up and brainstorming ideas for how we might help large trees through extreme drought

Brainstorming how we might create a water reservoir for huge trees

Design sketches and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

Can we help large trees through the effects of climate change?  One of the types of climate challenges we see today is drought, and it challenges plants and animals in several ways and there is a lot of ways we can help. Among the many challenged by climate change some trees play very special roles in the local eco-systems. Often these very old trees shelter a diverse and ancient community of species, not seen around younger and smaller trees

Baobab trees as example

At the moment the news of how many of the ancient – Sometimes more than 1500 years old Baobab trees of several species, are dying out faster than ever before in modern times – and I use the Baobab tree here as an example. But several other tree species play similar roles – and the challenge for the large trees are wide-spread

Not only a biodiversity and ecology challenge – the trees also play key-roles in local communities 

Sometimes these large trees also take on symbolic roles for the local communities, and in local storytelling, giving people hope and a focus point when they are about to give up or facing hard times.

Instead of just stating the challenge of these giants disappearing, I wondered if we could somehow provide these trees with enough water and support to get them through extreme drought. Here is a brainstorm I made to start a discussion on how we might create an extra available water-resource for large trees, in the cases where lack of water is the primary challenge:

Concept and idea sketches of water-systems for large trees 

sketch, drawing of large baobab tree and ways to make a water reservoir close to it. idea sketches and brainstorm by Frits Ahlefeldt
Concept sketch – brainstorming ways to help large trees through extreme drough

Here are three different approaches, that might be worth to explore to help large trees through extreme drought:

  • Placing a water reservoir close to the trees and supplying the roots with extra water in extreme drought through drip irrigation
  • Integrating an invisible water reservoir in the often hollow trees, somehow with the option of filling it from external source
  • Working with a buffer, with membranes and different kinds of soils as a natural reservoir close to the tree. A reservoir that can also be supplied with extra water in the most extreme situations

The three different approaches to watering large trees described here is just a starting point to innovate around how we might do this –  And there might be much better and many other ways of helping large trees through extreme drought and climate change so we won’t lose these well-rooted and ancient cornerstones in local biodiversity and culture.

Research links:

When trees play key & symbolic roles in communities – Survivor trees article on AmusingPlanet

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