The Westerveld Conservation Trust is aiming to mitigate and reverse effects of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases altering the earth- atmosphere radiation balance ultimately resulting in a warming climate. This is of course not the sole cause of climate change. We focus on disrupted functions of the small and the large water cycles and address their rehabilitation as major contributing factor.
The large water cycle is the exchange of water between ocean and land. It starts with the evaporation of seawater to form clouds of water vapor that are pushed inland. The water vapor condenses owing to a decline in temperature, and falls to the ground as precipitation.
The small water cycle is a closed circulation of water in which water evaporated on land falls in the form of precipitation over this same terrestrial environment. Mutual interactions take place between the individual small water cycles in a vast area of land through cloud formation. The small water cycles are subsidized with water from the large water cycle.
The small and large water cycles together constitute a hydrological corridor that regulates the climatological and atmospheric conditions of an area.
Vegetation plays an important role as a coolant inducing precipitation.
Precipitation is partly absorbed in the ground partly used by vegetation, some evaporates and the remainder flows away via surface runoff into the network of rivers and back to the ocean.
Under balanced conditions, the same volume of water flows from the continents into the ocean as falls on the continents. When more water flows from the continents to the ocean the land loses water, dries out and heats up. Heavily eroded land cannot hold water. Flood and drought cycles set in increasing the malfunctioning of the land.
To cure the land the water retention capacities of the land must be restored.
This is our aim- to establish an efficient, replicable method of reviving a hydrological corridor.
The Westerveld Conservation Trust developed a specific ‘Contour-Trench-Technique’, which consists of digging trenches of 4 meter wide and 1 meter deep, on contour elevation lines in the landscape.
The water that comes down the hills after heavy rainfalls is collected in the trenches and is brought subsurface. From here, the grounds quickly turn green with low grass. As water stays available, larger bushes start to grow and the area will stay green. The small water cycle is restored.
By doing this within a network of strategic re-greened locations the initiated evapotranspiration and atmospheric cooling ensures regular, more balanced precipitation in the entire targeted region. Within a few years, this method of climate engineering restores the ability of an extended stretch of land to provide local and regional ecosystem services.
By working with the indigenous population to develop simple and diverse business models that capitalize on the value of the re-greened land, multiple goals can be achieved. First of all, the cost of re-greening the land can be recuperated and used to re-green other areas. In that way, the initiative becomes a revolving fund instead of a “one-off-subsidy”.
Furthermore, the businesses can restart local economies, raise the social and economic standard of living, and develop a situation in which good and sustainable stewardship of the local ecosystem is encouraged, by restoring a culture of prevention.