Back in engineering school, we studied about technologies that can control SOIL EROSION --- retaining walls, ripraps, gabions, geotextiles, and some others. Planting trees, though, would’ve been the best if only they could grow fast enough. The proactive solution, of course, is not to cut the trees, in the first place.
The engineering solutions are quite costly, requires a lot of materials and uses a considerable amount of energy in constructing or installing them---not so green. Still unknown to many, there is a green greener solution that will not cost much. It’s a plant, more specifically it’s a grass, in the same family as citronella and lemon grass, a bit like the talahib, but much sturdier and with deeper roots. It's called VETIVER (Chrysopogon zizanioides).
video by Vertiver Systems
The grass can grow up to 1.5 meters high in clumps of about the same size, but its roots, amazingly, goes down 2 - 4 meters down the ground. Try pulling that out. Having access to water deeper down, the Vetiver doesn't require watering or irrigation for it to grow. It's low maintenance. In fact is drought tolerant. The closely propagating clumps act as breaks or shields to water run-off. It can withstand relatively strong currents. It is 70% to 90% effective in controlling run-offs, and that is at about 1/20 of the cost of most technical solutions.
Vetiver originates from India but can grow and adapt most anywhere there is a good amount of sun. It is non-fertile, non-invasive, and is quite resistant to pests and diseases. There's no need for pesticides; and no need for fertilizers. Again, it's low maintenance.
Its usefulness as a tool for soil and water conservation, infrastructure stabilization, pollution control, waste water treatment, mitigation and rehabilitation, sediment control, prevention of storm damage, and many other environmental protection applications (through bioengineering and phytoremediation) has been well researched and documented. Its use, actually, is now formalized as VETIVER SYSTEM (VS) , a bio engineering technology, promoted by an international NGO, the VETIVER INTERNATIONAL NETWORK.
There are other uses for the Vetiver, by the way. It used to be cultivated mainly for its fragrant essential oils. Yes, for perfume, and aromatherapy. Additionally, the roots are made into mats to hang for the cooling of huts.
Why did I post about VETIVER?
Climate Change and Global Warming bring extreme amounts of rainfall, which result to much run-offs, erosions and floods. The Philippines is one of the countries most susceptible to the ill effects climate change brings; and is also one of the least prepared financially to cope with it. While we search for ways to live sustainable lives in order to battle climate change; it’s but prudent to also search for ways to be ready for the worst.
I first learned about Vetiver from a lecture by Arch. Mary Ann Arañas-Espina of the University of the Philippines' College of Architecture in the 2009 Green Forum. Wikipedia helped me to recall the details, though. I'm grateful to free education.
WORD FROM THE SPONSOR
Matthew 6: 25-34
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.