Archive for September, 2011

September 16, 2011

The Dream


Lon Levin in his treehouseWho hasn’t fantasized about living in a treehouse? Whether you are a child who wants to rule his backyard from a crows nest in the trees or an adult who seeks solace away from their everyday life of working, treehouses offer “the stuff dreams are made of”. Most treehouses can be built by a handy man or a dad who is handy with tools. But some treehouses are unique, imaginative and special. Some structures are built on trees or hung from trees and some unusual tree houses are grown from trees or even built right into a tree.

Some people see living in trees as an extravagance, some want to save the environment and others out of tradition or necessity. Tree house designs that range from functional to whimsical, sustainable to eccentric and affordable to amazingly expensive.

Innovative builders keep imagination alive in their treehouses. Combining architecture and landscaping they create treehouses which mix beautifully into their wooded surroundings, and preserve the health and integrity of the trees that support them.

September 15, 2011

Marijuana Can Save Trees


The answer to worldwide deforestation is growing fields of Cannabis sativa to supply the world’s pulp for paper. Industrial strength hemp – marijuanaMarijuana – all illegal in the United States.

A Hemp Industries Association fact sheet reports that “hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce waste-water contamination (needs very little agricultural pesticides).”

“Hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and it’s creamy color lends itself to environmentally friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical by-products.”

“Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard.”

“Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. It can also be recycled more times.”

The Chinese used hemp for paper as far back as 8,000 BC. Ancient documents have been retrieved that were totally hemp based. Hemp fiber has proven to withstand the destructive nature of time.

Herodotus writes that Thracians used both the wild and cultivated fiber for cloth. He marveled at the garments made from hemp and compared it to linen. He also wrote about the purification rites associated with “vapor-baths” and breathing smoldering smoke from moist hemp seed. Hemp’s by-product is tetrahydracannabinol (THC) and is a psychoactive chemical generally absorbed through the respiratory system or digestive tract with a significant effect on perception and cognitive abilities.

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were advocates of Cannabis fiber and recommended their fellow countrymen to use the plant for lamp oil and fabric for uniforms and clothing. Jefferson found its cloth a rival to cotton, at much less cost and he used it to clothe his farm hands. George Washington was said to be more familiar with the plant as a drug.
It does seem that hemp is making a comeback almost everywhere except the United States. Canada has made experimental hemp cultivation a policy. China is a leading country in the production of hemp and hemp products. South Africa is growing hemp, New Zealand is growing hemp, Switzerland is growing hemp, and on and on. Projects in Kentucky and California were politically strangled, and hemp cultivation in the U.S. is a long time in coming, if ever.

In summary, the hemp movement feels that hemp fiber is more durable than wood and can be recycled more frequently than tree fiber. Hemp produces a highly nutritious seed crop that can be of comparable value to the fiber crop. Agriculturally grown hemp would fit well with natural forests and tree plantations.

…or would it?

To read the full story go to http://forestry.about.com/cs/treeplanting/a/pot_hemp_pulp_4.htm

September 14, 2011

Costa Rica Rainforest Treehouses


Costa Rica treehouse

Treehouse wonder in Costa Rica

“I’m fed up and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” If this is your current state of mind then consider this… Finca Bellavista: A Sustainable Rainforest Community.. Located on the base of an almost 6,000 foot primary rainforest mountain on the South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica – not far from the Pan American Highway, Finca Bellavista was created with the sole purpose of preserving 300 acres of local rainforest by offering a unique opportunity for ecologically minded property owners to live sustainably in and steward a managed rainforest environment. Forty years ago this would have been a no-brainer for me, but now there are other considerations that have to do with convenience stores, healthcare, 24 hour fitness…should I go

But for those of you who are more adventurous this is an alternative lifestyle that bears looking into.

With a principle focus of creating a balance between maintaining a fragile habitat for wildlife and using natural resources wisely, Finca Bellavista aims to implement sustainable energy practices such as hydroelectric and solar power, while operating a full-fledged recycling center and a common garden area for the community. This might make it an eco-utopia for some, but for others it’s a possible solution for dovetailing conservation with development.

As per Finca Bellavista‘s guidelines on their website, treehouses in the community must be low-impact, stilt-built or arboreal dwellings that utilize a rainwater catch system to provide water for each unit. Waste that is generated is to be treated with “a cutting-edge technology found in biodigestors”. A “hydroelectric turbine system” will power the entire community. The power grid will run via a system of transformers and underground power cables installed along the horseshoe-shaped main access road that runs throughout the community, producing peak power of 62 kilowatts at the generator leads. The power system at Finca Bellavista will produce clean, sustainable, and extremely reliable power for the community, all the while virtually eliminating any monthly electricity bills for residents.

Fancy a bit of socializing or Tarzan action? Residents can opt for either the community’s system of ground trails or its ‘Sky Trail’ network of zip lines and platforms that deliver them to and from their homes in the rainforest canopy. Missing the outside world? A main parking lot exists at the community’s base area, where high-speed Internet and WIFI are available.

The proprietors state that “these requirements will not only preserve the integrity of the rainforest canopy and its inhabitants, but will also provide an unusual and adventurous lifestyle for human dwellers as well. Imagine waking to the sounds of a tropical bird symphony or catching a zip-line to meet up with friends for a meal or an evening cocktail…” This might be a bit too much of an ewok housing scenario for some, or a real estate development plan that should simply exist as a rainforest preserve, but for now it is on the table as a possibility for how “going native” might be the wave of the future or the cure for what ails us.

Read more: ECO EWOK TREEHOUSES: Finca Bellavista Rainforest Village Finca Bellavista – Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World