Water is the foundation of life. All living organisms need water to survive. Water has the power to revive degraded landscapes and ecosystems. Science and many generations of vernacular wisdom have provided us with the knowledge and skills to create the necessary conditions to harvest, retain and infiltrate water for the restoration of landscapes and ecosystems.
Humans have been altering the natural water cycle for thousands of years with our land use management. This alteration has become much more substantial in the last few decades. This has led to a disrupted water cycle resulting in more severe weather events - drought, torrential rains and fire. Nature has been regulating the water cycle for millions of years. We have now the knowledge and skills to restore the water cycle. Let's work together with nature to revive the water cycle!
WATER RETENTION LANDSCAPES
Many of our modern land use management methods result in removing water from the land. Our urban environments are predominantly made of hard surfaces - roads, paved areas, roofs - and prevent the water from infiltrating into the ground. Water run-off from these surfaces is typically drained via a storm water reticulation system and it is quickly discharged into rivers or oceans. Modern agricultural methods often require tilling of the soil. Bare soils increase water run-off and often this water run-off is drained away from the fields to prevent damage to crops. Urban environments and many hectares of agricultural land are effectively draining and drying out the land by moving water quickly towards rivers and oceans, not allowing water to infiltrate into the ground to nurture soils and recharge aquifers.
Water retention techniques aim to slow the movement of water and allow the water to infiltrate into the soil. Water retention techniques result in improved soil hydrology and aquifer recharge. In addition, these techniques allow for soil biodiversity to thrive and diversify. This in turn results in more carbon being store in soils, creating a sponge effect. Soils with high carbon content infiltrate and retain more water than soils with less organic mater.
At Wild Banana Design, we are certified professional water restoration practitioners specialised in water retention infrastructure. The certification process was achieved after rigorous specialist training by the global platform Water Stories led by Zach Weiss. Zach was the first person to earn the Holzer Practitioner certification directly by the acclaimed Sepp Holzer after a two year apprenticeship.
Visit our services page for more information about our services, our process and our methodology.SERVICES
THE WATER CYCLE
The water cycle is often summarised as water vapour rising from the oceans, also called atmospheric rivers, forming clouds that eventually cause precipitation. Once on land water run-off - water that does not infiltrate into the soil - ends up in streams and rivers and eventually returns back to the ocean. This picture although not entirely incorrect is an over simplification of the water cycle and leaves aside a few important factors.
The first one is that a great contribution to the water cycle - water vapour in the air - is provided by vegetation transpiration. Transpiration is the release of water vapour by plants and trees through their leaves as part of their internal water circulation process. It is estimated that as an average only 39% of the precipitation received on land comes from the oceans. The majority, 61% derives from the land (Schneider et al. 2017). And more than half of this land derived atmospheric moisture comes from transpiration by plants (Jasechko et al. 2013; Sutanto et al. 2014; Wei et al. 2017).
Cloud and rain formation
The second important factor is that for clouds to form, condensation of water vapour particles in the air is required. Clouds are in fact a grouping of millions of water droplets. For the condensation of water particles to occur, a nuclei particle is required - cloud formation nuclei. There are a few nuclei particles known to condensate water vapour into clouds but one the most common and effective ones are organic volatile compounds released by plants. Once the cloud is formed, another nuclei particle - ice nucleating particle - is required to turn the millions of water droplets into rain drops. Some of the most common nucleating particles for rain formation are bacteria and fungi spores present on plant leaves. These microorganisms reach the clouds via water vapour particles as a result of vegetation transpiration.
What can we do to revive the water cycle?
The answer is simple but it requires a change in our mindset. In order to revive our water cycle, vegetation and soils must have a leading role. We should aim to increase vegetated biomass and the carbon content of the soils - we need spongy soils capable of infiltrating and retaining water for vegetation and other biodiversity to thrive.
The above information is extracted from leading scientific research on climate and the role of biology on rainfall. If you are interested in learning more about this the following are some reputable scientist that have done extensive research on this subject:
Cindy Morris - Senior Researcher and Scientist - Director of the Plant Pathology Research Unit at the French Department for Agriculture.
Millán Millán - Senior atmospheric scientist - Director of the Centre for Environmental Studies in the Mediterranean (CEAM) and one of the main environmental assessors for the European Union.
Walter Jehne - Soil microbiologist, climate scientist and researcher - Founder of Healthy Soils Australia and panelist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation conference in Paris - 2017.
THE WATER CYCLE & WATER STORIES
The following short videos have been produced by the Water Stories team. The first video describes the full water cycle. The second video describes the degenerated water cycle or water cycle death spiral which we are currently experiencing in many parts of the world. The third video gives an overview on how we can revive the water cycle.
Water Stories is a free online community focused on raising awareness about the importance of water for the health of our ecosystems and the planet. They have produced a series of very informative videos, short films and webinars with remarkable guests. If you would like to find out more about the water cycle and what actions we can take to revive it, visit Water Stories website or join the Water Stories community to keep up to date with the latest information.Water Stories