|Athel Tamarisk (Tamarix aphylla)|
|Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum - (see footnote)|
|Coachella Valley Mesquite Dunes|
|This is the common flower structure for which many people |
will no doubt be familiar with.
There was an interesting article last year in Discovery News magazine of October 2011 with the title, "Biblical Tree For Climate Salvation". It made reference to a scriptural text about Abraham who planted a Tamarisk in Beersheba. The Hebrew word for Tamarisk is 'eshel'.
Genesis 21:33 (NW) - "After that he planted a tamarisk tree at Be′er-she′ba and called there upon the name of Jehovah the indefinitely lasting God."
|Dr Yosef Weitz walking among |
“The first tree Abraham put in the soil of Beersheba was a tamarisk. Following his lead, four years ago we put out two million in the same area. Abraham was right. The tamarisk is one of the few trees we have found that thrives in the south where yearly rainfall is less than six inches.”
|Salt Cedars growing in Israel's|
Okay, now that we know that the Tamarisk isn't all that bad or evil if located and utilized properly, let's discuss possible Mesquite Dune windbreak engineering possibilities. Such a windbreak couldn't just be haphazardly put together and left to it's own devices so to speak. A windbreak in either an agricultural, railroad, or highway right-of-way setting needs a certain amount of uniformity and organization. Take a look at this earthen berm created for a railroad right-of-way in China. It's perfect and allows for an incredible foundation for establishing nitrogen fixing desert plants like Mesquite, Palo Verde, Acacia, Ironwood etc. At the same time using Bio-Crustal mixes if available from companies like Terra Derm Foundation
The newly built windbreak wall extends a total length of 8,230 meters. A forty-meter section was built with state-of-the-art technology that had never been used for the Trains running between Zhenzhuquan and Hongshanqu in China before. This section of the windbreak wall is expected to provide safety shelter for both the railway and the highway. Of course utilizing such a structure as a foundation for plant establishment would require the construction be done well away at a greater distance from the Railroad tracks.
|Strategies to slow down rapid|
evapotranspiration in crops
|Stringing Barbed Wire across the top of the berm to discourage animals such as |
Camels from entering fields
|Permaculture Research Institute|
Cost-wise this will be about 60% less than a chain-link fence, but there are other advantages as well. The berm will not only keep out animals, but it will provide a good foundation for putting up a wind-break of trees. Wind is the second main cause of evaporation in our climate, and evaporation is the main cause of water loss. We’ll plant the outside of the berm with cacti and shorter, spikey desert plants to keep animals from climbing, and we’ll plant the inside with long-term nitrogen-fixing trees. Once those plants are established, we’ll have a good windbreak surrounding the entire agricultural area of the site, lowering evaporation and increasing water retention."Another important point before I move on. I've previously written about Terracing along with Berms and windbreaks as a page refernce on the right hand side of the blog. (see footnote) There is a point of note here on desert terracing to impede and slow water down from it's usual torrential coursing. I saw this done on the Island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain. They have a critical situation for water there and slowing it down to percolate into the volcanic soils is a must. Preventing as much rainfall water as possible from entering dry washes and flowing back into the sea, or at least slowing it way down and allowing more soaking into the Earth. Same situation at the Al Baydha Project. Take a look and learn.
|Permaculture Research Institute |
Terracing to slow down water and silt and allow it to soak into the earth
|Image - Geologist Wayne Ranney|
Sand Dune stabilized utilizing Prosopis &
Acacia Trees in the Rajastani Desert
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand and figure out what has successfully happened in the above sand dune stabilization photograph taken by geologist Wayne Ranney. Incredibly it would be argued that such an undertaking would cost to much money to remove Tamarisk Wind/Sand Break barriers, yet the fact is they are costly. Most people still don't even realize the vast amounts of water necessary to keep those windscreens thick dense. Yes they thrive in harsh deserts, but they use far more water than southwestern natives which can be deeper rooted if properly encouraged to do so. Mesquite dune establishment would be far less than costly and would be able to maintain themselves without much care beyond occasional trimming. Actual materials for building the dune or berm foundations could come from an easy source. In and around Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, not to mention almost the entire state of Arizona, there are numerous giant mining operations which have completely obliterated the landscape. Not only their giant open pits and mountain leveling, but massive stretches of rock and sand tailings which have plenty of material for building a vast collection of barriers for agricultural area enhancement. These companies after extracting countless billion$$$ from their cheap government leased or gifted claims often times simply leaving the land in worse condition than they found it. Why not obligate them to take a small percentage of that gifted obscene profit and give back to the planet ?
|Mesquite Gold Mine - east of Brawley CA|
|United States Gypsum Mine at Fish Creek |
|Tree of Life – Bahrain | Photo by: Faisal Ansari|
World Famous tourist attraction called Tree of Life in desert island nation of Bahrain near Saudi Arabia. Very Kool Link to an interactive Video panorama view of this famous "Tree of Life" Mesquite treeThe above tree is a well known tourist attraction and exists out in the middle of nowhere in the moonscape desert of Bahrain. The tree is a variety of Mesquite Prosopis cineraria which just happens to be the state tree of Rajasthan, India and the provincial tree of the Sindh province of Pakistan. This tree in Bahrain is the largest and most known specimen of the native Asian Mesquite. This particular tree is over 400 years old and the surrounding desert is devoid of water and rainfall for the most part. It is almost 32 feet or 10 meters in height. Like many Mesquite & African Acacia trees the potential for rooting depth can be anywhere from 160 to 200 feet deep. Such knowledge of survivability should be a key as to land vegetation establishment goals and the ability of such constructs as a Mesquite Dune Wind/Sand Barrier a plus for Agricultural area usage.
There have been many programs to eradicate the Tamarisk from it's invasive range, but it's clear that unless you educate Farmers and the Public in general, there will be no change as to this tree being utilized as a wind barrier or garden shade mechanism. There will always be a seed source available. Any attempt at Riparian habitat site restoration would be a total waste of time and continual ongoing maintenance nightmare. At least a new design of windbreak would not only reduce seed sources, but also enhance natural native habitat for local wildlife. As time goes on, less and less people are interested in volunteering for such activities. Construction could certainly provide jobs and improvement to this part of the natural world. To bad such similar programs such as those 1930s depression era Conservation Corps and others couldn't be revived and folks on Government Entitlement Welfare Programs offered a chance at working not only for their pay, but also taught a vocational trade and receiving a feeling of self worth again. I guess that is to much to hope for. We just don't have a world like that yet where some Rights Group wouldn't step in and complain about how humiliating such a reform would be. Who knows, maybe the 3rd World countries will have to lead the way. Below is a gallery of mostly desert environments for which natural windbreaks constructed utilizing native flora could and should be used. The exception below is an experiment in Sudan which has had the reverse opposite as Tamarisks in Southwestern USA. Although I relate mostly to Desert environs, folks worldwide should know their native flora and clues found in Nature as to how and what to biomimic when it comes to practical application.
|Image - Khalil Khani|
Prosopis (Mesquite) used for Windbreak
|imad from Journal of Forest Products & Industries|
Benefits of Mesquite Trees (Prosopis juliflora & Chiliensis)
brought into Sudan drylands by Botanist E. Massey (1917)
|image - Ramón Suárez Ojeda|
Beach Dunes in Gran Canaria
|Image, Michael Flaherty|
Mesquite Dune down in Death Valley