Friday, December 28, 2012

Turning Israeli roofs into green habitats | ISRAEL21c

Anybody can plunk down some potted trees and pretty planters on a roof, but a rooftop garden does not offer the same environmental and ecological benefits as a “green roof” – a layer of low-maintenance vegetation that insulates the building underneath and reduces flash flooding on paved streets below by acting as a sponge for rainfall.

Prof. Leon Blaustein, director of the University of Haifa’s new Green Roofs Ecology Center, says the Israeli center is the first of its kind in the Middle East and one of the first worldwide to focus specifically on how to conserve biodiversity in an urban setting.

“When you create a city, you’re destroying much of the natural habitat for plants and animals, and we want to mitigate this as much as possible with our rooftop habitats,” Blaustein tells ISRAEL21c.

Blaustein and his team have installed 48 experimental modules on top of the university’s Student Union, each with a different growing material, drainage configuration and plant grouping.

Ecology researchers around the world will be watching as the Israelis monitor how well each of the modules thrives and attracts insects, birds and other fauna, in the hope of determining the most successful recipe for developing biodiverse green roofs in arid climates.

Eventually, they hope to create experimental green roof plots on additional buildings on the campus and around the city of Haifa, as well as other Israeli cities.

Turning Israeli roofs into green habitats | ISRAEL21c