Groasis’ founder Pieter Hoff explains need of reforestation on Dutch national television

Groasis’ founder Pieter Hoff explains need of reforestation on Dutch national television


He wants to plant trees, lots of trees. It is the mission of former plant breeder and bulb grower, Pieter Hoff. Not because he is so fond of forests, but replanting of the massive forests could be, according to him, the cure against warming up of the climate. I have three children and hopefully they will have children again. And now that has happened. I think if you have children. You also have to think, what is the future of them? And can I contribute a little and ensure that that future improves? Or at least remains good. The concern for the climate is so great that Hoff decides to sell his agricultural business. From this moment on, he is solely concerned with the question. How you can grow trees in man-made deserts. You go to the nearest desert. In our case it was 2 hours flying to Oujda, in Morocco, the Sahara. And there I did a lot of tests together with the University of Oujda. And finally in 2011 we brought this intelligent bucket onto the market, but then, a somewhat different model. And gradually it has become a success. Hoff comes up with the Growboxx, a smart bucket that allows trees to grow at a fraction of the normal water consumption. It is precisely by giving a minimum of water that the tree goes into the deeper layers of the earth, looking for water itself. It is actually a donut. And here you see, we plant the tree in the soil through this donut. And here you see a small wick and that wick gives a little water to the tree. So it is planted in the middle of this intelligent bucket. All right And actually the point is. That you give just enough that he won’t die. If you give too much water, the roots will actually grow up. While there is no moisture in the top layer of those dry areas. So what you actually want. Is that that tree goes as deep as possible with its roots. Well, what we do then is that we first plant the tree. We plant that tree in the planting hole. Then bring these leaves together. You put it through the center of the box. And so the tree is actually protected by the Waterboxx that surrounds it. Yes We will soon fill that Waterboxx with water and then bury the box. The innovation of the Growboxx is mainly, that a much smaller amount of water is needed to grow a tree. For the water consumption of 1 tree that grows with normal irrigation, can be grown with the Growboxx, 7,500 trees. And that gives us so much courage, because we think that if we do this on a very large scale. In this sustainable way. That we can plant so many trees in the world. That we can ultimately lower the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere Tackle global warming with trees. It sounds ambitious. But the fact is that trees continuously remove CO2 from the air. And give oxygen back for it. This exchange works as follows. Trees absorb CO2 from the air. Once in the tree, the CO2 is broken down into carbon and oxygen. The carbon is used for the production of wood. The surplus goes through the trunk to the roots And here it is exchanged with millions of fungal threads in the ground. These use the carbon as energy. In exchange for the carbon, the fungi returns salts and minerals to the tree. The oxygen is purified and released to the air by the leaves. It is the easiest way to capture CO2. Says professor of forest ecology and forest management, Frits Mohren. He is enthusiastic about the Growboxx. Precisely because of the limited use of water. I find it a very interesting system. Precisely because you actually, in a very smart way, limit the water use for those young plants. And at the same time stimulates them to make roots. The creation of new forests is not new. In fact, in the early 20th century, a huge project started in the Netherlands. To reforest the then often exhausted wild lands. Then there became lot of forest here in the Netherlands. Especially here in the Veluwe, in Brabant and in Drenthe. There was a lot of lost soil. What was then called wasteland. That was completely degraded. Where a lot of material had been removed. And where the wind and rain actually had free rein. And those soils were very degraded. And there too, with a lot of effort. With digging, with fertilization, forests have been created there. Meanwhile, countries in the Middle East have also discovered the Growboxx. We travel with Pieter Hoff to Abu Dhabi. Where he can receive a prestigious prize for his innovative idea. We have planted palms in the Emirates. We have there on a very small scale, in different places, 50 trees, 100 trees, 300 trees. With a Royal Family, where we have planted 50 trees. And gradually people everywhere see that it can work. And yes, that gives you this credibility. And therefore has that prize been awarded. The roots grow in the round. The roots do not grow vertically into the soil. They continue to grow in the round. But they should grow vertically. We have approximately 2 billion hectares deserts devastated by man. Man made desert, they say in English. Where trees once stood. That we could plant again. And 2 billion hectares of trees can decompose about the same amount of CO2, that we are currently releasing into the atmosphere through fossil fuels at the time. So if we would plant the entire area. The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would not increase anymore. On the one hand, we have to reduce, so that we raise the concentration less quickly. And on the other hand we have to plant trees on a very large scale, world scale. So that we extract the CO2 concentration in the air. And thereby lower back to the level that we used to have. We must make the Netherlands CO2 neutral by 2030. Not 49% but 100%. Then do that with the cheapest technologies. So that we really ensure that climate change is prevented.

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