What makes an award-winning nature and biodiversity project?
With applications now open for edie’s 2023 Awards, we’re showcasing the achievements of this year’s winners. Up next, the winner of our Nature & Biodiversity Project of the Year Award, Climate Care & Mikro-Tek.
The Mycorrhizal Forestry project in Chile is advancing forest cover on degraded and marginal land, by using innovative growth-enhancing biotechnology. Mycorrhizae are fungi which work symbiotically with trees to encourage the formation of larger, healthier root systems. This increases carbon sequestration by improving the health and growth rates of the trees.
Chile is one of the most developed countries in the Southern Hemisphere, but two-thirds of the country – 48 million hectares – is affected or threatened by desertification and drought. And, of the 1.3 million people inhabiting the most-affected areas, around 60% live in poverty.
Without forest cover, particularly in hilly regions, soil erodes and the land degrades quickly. ClimateCare and Mikro-Tek work with small-scale landowners and the Chilean Forestry Department to use carbon financing to help address this through planting trees using biotechnology.
Before the project began, the technology was tested over three years to assess the results of applying locally collected species of mycorrhizal fungi to three tree species selected by the partners and the Chilean government, compared with identical plots which did not incorporate the technology.
Growth data collected from one million field-planted seedlings showed average increases in growth and survival of up to 83% due to mycorrhizal inoculation. Mycorrhizal technology reduces the need for chemical fertilisers and herbicides and increases biodiversity and species habitat in the newly planted forests.
What is more, any increase in plant growth has a corresponding increase in CO2 removed from the atmosphere and sequestered in the plant biomass. Emission reductions are actually greater than verified volumes as soil carbon was not measured.
Local communities have established nurseries where seedlings are inoculated with the fungi to ensure its strong presence when the trees are field planted. The seedlings now cover more than 6,000 hectares owned by 25 separate landowners, and the projects stabilise soil, reduce flooding and erosion, and provide income for the landowners from harvestable timber, non-timber forest products such as honey production, herbal teas, mushrooms, and charcoal, and ultimately from the sale of carbon credits from the project.
Following harvest every 10-20 years, the trees will be replaced with new seedlings and the cycle continues. Additional environmental benefits include erosion control, improved soil quality, water retention and wildlife habitat. Collaboration with local communities and the cyclical nature of the project ensure ongoing sustainability.
Are you our next winner?
Now in its 16th year, the world’s largest sustainable business awards scheme – formerly known as the Sustainability Leaders Awards – continues to champion bold and brilliant climate leadership. From the most ambitious net-zero carbon programmes through to cutting-edge green innovations; from impactful climate partnerships and social sustainability initiatives to the heroes on the ground who are driving positive change.
The edie Awards are hosted during our flagship Business Leadership Month, offering a unique opportunity to have your sustainability achievements recognised and admired by thousands of businesses and climate experts. Winning an edie Award empowers teams, inspires stakeholders and accelerates sustainable business growth.
Entries for the awards are NOW OPEN and the deadline for entries is 14 October. The winners will then be revealed at a ceremony in London on 30 March 2023. Click here for full details and to enter.