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Planting trees in California or in Spain: there are differences to consider

Land Life Company (LLC) was founded in 2013 on the idea that «a business approach and technology can drive innovation to restore nature» with the mission to reforest the world

Technology to tackle climate change 

Land Life Company (LLC) was founded in 2013 on the idea that «a business approach and technology can drive innovation to restore nature», and its mission is to help restore 2 billion hectares of degraded land in the world. A tree is a solution as one unit of a tree can prevent soil erosion and groundwater infiltration. Trees provide habitat, support biodiversity, and are critical to our health and well-being. We started in the Middle East, and our first trees were planted on a farm of one friend of mine, outside of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

How do you use technology to understand and operate in different climates and ecologies? 

We are still learning what we can do across planting sites; we plant in Spain and California. There is a danger in generalizing and applying California to Spain: they are both Mediterranean climates, but the soils and conditions are different. There is also a danger in only learning from one climate and not understanding the lessons taught from other geographies. Through the data collection, we are applying the lessons learned from an ecological perspective between geographies. 

Do you start with pilot plots? 

We start small, and then we build operational considerations, trust with the local community and the local landowners. We track and trace all of our trees to understand how to do our job in the field, which differentiates us from other reforestation efforts. We are developing our own machine learning algorithms that help us design. Numerous factors are needed to go into redesigning nature. 

LLC brands itself as being ‘technology-driven’ to support reforestation. Can you tell us more about the cocoon design? 

Being technology-driven is part of our business model. We offer corporations a sustainable way to compensate their carbon emissions and restore nature through reforestation. We need to make that possible not only on the technical and ecological but also on the business sides. We have annual revenues in which we provide stability and predictability to our planting partners. They could then invest in carbon credits, thus having a longer investment perspective.

In an exercise of understanding your projects in the context of the climate crisis, do you realize connections or ecologically interdependencies between some projects? 

It is a challenge to focus on one place or expand a picture; LLC leans toward doing both. We focus on degraded landscapes, and if we imagine a wildfire, it strips out any vegetation – so does agriculture. Even if we are dealing with different causes of destruction, the outcome is the same. Relating that to the climate crisis, the challenge’s scale is similar in each of those locations. The challenge is how to bring back life on land where there is nothing.

Lampoon, Land Life Company  in Victoria, Australia
Land Life Company in Victoria, Australia

Lampoon reporting: Land life Company’s reforestation projects

You would give some examples of the projects you are proud of.

We stand on these dusty landscapes thinking nothing will grow here, but nature finds its way. A year after, we managed to plant hectares of different species of trees, all in various development stages. It is rewarding and inspiring for us to see this. Seeing the changes on the ground makes us believe in it, so we can then try to convince others to share our beliefs. 

Reforestation is sometimes associated with ‘carbon offsetting’, which has come under criticism. How does LLC’s work take account of this? 

We work with the oil and gas sector. Should we do this or not? They are a part of both the problem and the solution. The reality is that there is a demand for their products. If we can be part of that conversation and solution, then we are part of it. These oil and gas companies are trying to broaden into energy companies, which will take time. LLC asks the solutions that can help bridge this gap over time, and many companies face transitions that will be money and time-consuming. As they are working on self-improvement, we have not to demonize companies trying to do this transitioning. We need to make sure that it is genuine, well planned, and does not harm the process. To think of a tree as an asset with rules and regulations around it governs its existence as we do with our natural infrastructure. We need to make it possible for the private sector to invest in it and realize a return from that investment. Treating trees only like public goods has gotten us to where we are today because no one has felt primarily responsible for fixing it.

Politics and ecology

The series of wildfires in Lebanon in October 2019 led to large political protests. Looking at the intersection of ecology and politics – how do you take account of geopolitical dynamics in your work? 

As one of the threats to a global movement in the next century, climate change is also the cause and consequence of forced migration. We have received support for our work in the past years because personal experiences have gotten closer to those who have smelled wildfire smoke. Our mission is to make this possible by using technologies and operations and enabling others to do the same. We can develop the tools for others to make their reforestation projects efficient, and it should happen on a large scale. We need thousands of LLC, making this into a sector where people can invest in with a potential of return, like renewable energy. Financial doors can be opened, having rules and regulations that would prevent things like monoculture plantings. 

Do you think the political stability in some regions influences the geography of your work?

It does. We plant in developed economies, and that is because of the permanence of the project. Hopefully, no one will cut down the trees, and we have thought about planting in Indonesia. We have technology as support, but we do not want to compete against palm oil and people’s livelihoods. Those are issues that need to be addressed, and sometimes the forces that are causing deforestation in Indonesia are bigger than we are. Our philosophy focuses on technology through a controlled environment because we can be experimenting with technical and technological advancements while fine-tuning and testing it. Once those tools are built, LLC can share them much more broadly. 

Human relationship with nature

Emanuele Coccia, an Italian professor and philosopher, argues for new ways to perceive our relationship to trees, plants, and ecosystems. How do you value non-human species such as trees in decision making that impacts the environment?

One of the challenges of forestry design is that we are intervening in nature. We are making choices about the placement, quantity, and timing of the species that go in the ground. We are redesigning nature, which is a series of organic processes that happened over millennia; the thought that we as humans could come in and redesign it has an element of hubris. These areas are degraded and will not come back unaided; an intervention will be required. While we appreciate all of the interest in reforestation, we do not want to end up with monoculture forests. Monoculture planting increases the risks of wildfires and the spread of diseases. Diversity of species can mitigate these issues, so we plant with native species and a diverse palette. We work with our local landowners while thinking about the future and what will grow here because of the changing climate. We look at the past and the future to inform what should be done today. Our focus is on climate resiliency, and we are not making a bet on climate change. There are a number of different scenarios where we need to grow species that will be resilient over time to all of these changes that happen. When we look at the interactions between species, this is where our professor comes into action. Our team is working on ecosystem impacts. There are these national registries, pine, and oak trees that have carbon or biodiversity values. The scientists in our team look at the interactions between species, how they grow at different rates, thus creating the biodiversity that can build over time. We are not planting in isolation; it is also impossible for us to stimulate and think about it. 

Lampoon, A seed to a forest: creating viable business of ecological protection
A seed to a forest: creating viable business of ecological protection

Can you tell us more about your future projects?

We are going to plant in California, USA, near Bilbao, Spain, and in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia. We will probably plant in Ghana this year and experiment with mangroves in Puerto Rico. It is a combination of trying to focus while always testing in different geographies. 

Are you working on making your database public? 

For now, we are developing our database. We have started to create an app that would allow people to enter and access the data. We are trying to figure out how to measure quantity versus quality. There are platforms such as Restor, and we need to cite specific data to inform our designs and understand a neighborhood versus building a house. 

Land Life Company

Technology-driven reforestation company that plants trees at scale, offering corporations and organizations a sustainable and transparent way to take climate action and compensate carbon emissions through nature restoration. With a mission to restore the 2 billion hectares of degraded land in the world, Land Life Company applies data and technology, such as drones, artificial intelligence and monitoring applications, to every step of the planting process. Planting trees where it is needed most, Land Life Company’s projects revitalize important ecosystems, improve biodiversity and create social and economic benefits to local communities.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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