Waffle Forest To Use Native Species To Reduce Plant-Produced Pollution

Phoenix non-profit to use low-BVOC trees for its 'tech forest'
PHOENIX - Aug. 11, 2022 - PRLog -- Living trees are known to help remove pollutants from the air, but recent studies show that some trees produce compounds that make air pollution worse. Waffle Forest, a Phoenix-based non-profit, is committed to reclaiming waste land and planting a 'tech forest' using only native species that help rather than hinder air quality.

"Many trees produce volatile organic compounds that make air pollution worse," said Waffle Forest Founder Ernest Lerma. "We're selecting only trees that clean the air and reduce carbon and nitrogen dioxide." According to the Arizona Community Tree Council, native species like Western cottonwood and desert acacia top the list of trees that produce large amounts biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) which increase ozone pollution levels. Many popular ornamental trees and shrubs are the worst offenders when it comes to ozone emissions..

"Top scientists have been studying BVOCs for years, and their data allows us to select trees with the lowest emissions and best air-cleaning capabilities," Lerma explained. "Ozone air pollution in Phoenix is the fifth worst in the nation, so it's imperative to use trees that help fight air pollution. Our plan to plant 10,000 trees will reduce air pollution by naturally filtering carbon and nitrogen dioxide."

The non-profit aims to rehabilitate a former landfill and tackle air pollution with "smart trees" and direct-air-capture infrastructure. A pilot program using patented TreeTalker technology to measure the pollution each tree absorbs is being funded by grants and donations. "We plan to install hydropanels that use sunlight to collect moisture from the air and store it nearby to water the trees. Each tree will be equipped with a TreeTalker device that reports data to a dedicated server every hour, including the amount of water used and carbon absorbed," he said.

Waffle Forest's name derives from plans for rows upon rows of 15-by-15-foot-square trees laid out in a waffle pattern, using mature native species like mesquite, desert willow, palo verde, and other desert species.

"It's only been in the past 25 year or so that we realized that the trees we've planted to add shade and clean the air have really been adding to our air pollution problems," Lerma reported. "We plan educate people attracted to our Waffle Forest's park-like atmosphere to, and hopefully reduce new plantings of the wrong species. We know people care about reducing pollution, and this provide a way they can do their part to help, by removing high-BVOC trees and replacing them with species that help instead of hurt."

To learn more about Waffle Forest, visit http://WaffleForest.org. To make a donation or sponsor a waffle square, contact Lerma at ernest@waffleforest.org.

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