The BORASSUS Project: Aims, Objectives And Preliminary Insights Into The Environmental And Socio-economic Contribution Of Biogeotextiles To Sustainable Development And Soil Conservation
Free (open access)
C. A. Booth, M. A. Fullen
Field and laboratory studies suggest geotextile mats constructed from palm leaves are an effective, sustainable and economically viable soil conservation technique. The three-year (2005-08) EU-funded BORASSUS Project (Contract number INCO-CT-2005-510745) is evaluating their long-term effectiveness in controlling soil erosion and assessing their sustainability and economic viability in 10 countries in Africa, Europe, South America and South-East Asia. The technique offers potentially novel bioengineering solutions to environmental problems, including technologies for soil conservation, sustainable plant production and use of indigenous plants, improved ecosystem management, decreasing deforestation, improving agroforestry and cost-effective geotextile applications in diverse environments. Palm geotextiles may improve socio-economic foundations for sustainable development and the benefits for developing countries may include poverty alleviation, engagement of local people as stakeholders, employment for disadvantaged groups, small and medium enterprise (SME) development, earning hard currency, environmental education and local community involvement in land reclamation and environmental education programmes. These benefits are achieved through: (a) Promotion of sustainable and environmentally-friendly palm agriculture to discourage deforestation, promoting both reforestation and agroforestry; (b) Construction of palm geotextiles developing into a rural labour-intensive industry, particularly encouraging employment of socially-disadvantaged groups; and (c) Export of palm geotextiles to industrialized countries earns hard currency for rural developing economies, based on the principles of fair trade. In Europe, experiments are in progress in diverse field environments (agricultural and archaeological sites, coastal sand dunes and engineered slopes) and in laboratory simulations of both water and wind erosion processes. Keywords: soil and water conservation, Bioengineering technology, socioeconomic development.
soil and water conservation, Bioengineering technology, socioeconomic development.