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UC Berkeley Students Tackle Special Project
Work Funded by Campus Green Mini-Grant

A group of students in the landscape architecture department at the University of California at Berkeley have undertaken a special design-build project at Blake Garden, the department's research laboratory.

A team of landscape architecture students at the University of California Berkeley is tackling a design-build, sustainable ecology project at Blake Garden, the department's research laboratory.

Their work is funded by a $2,000 mini grant from The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), UC Berkeley's Campus Green Fund.

Students in landscape architecture's Water Savvy Garden Design class have at least two goals in mind. They want to stabilize a slope in the topography of the site using sustainable methods; and they want to build a viewing platform made with materials from local sources. This platform will have an inspiring view of the Bay Area.

The students will research sustainable slope-stabilization strategies with natural materials, such as jute and reclaimed wood. In the process, they will learn about erosion control of watersheds.

"The project will be an ecological and sustainable learning tool for students and the local community," a student blog about the project states. "It will provide wildlife habitat with California native, low water-use plants, and highlight the landscape architecture profession, its impact in the everyday environment, and the importance of land stewardship."

The team includes students Erin Daniels, Kushal Lachhwani, Jason Prado, Joanna Salem, and Shantel Wilkerson. Dawn Kooyumjian teaches this class.

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) allocates grants for projects that improve and support UC Berkeley's campus sustainability efforts.

"TGIF allocates funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley," its website states.

Students, faculty and staff may submit project proposals, which are selected for funding by the annually appointed TGIF Committee This committee consists of students, faculty and staff, and the students have the majority vote.

How Soil Management Can Affect Climate Change
Properly managing soil can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are causing climate change, the chairman of the Department of Natural Sciences at Dickinson State University in North Dakota said.

Dr. Eric Brevik has coauthored four papers on different soil science topics that have recently been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. In one of those, Brevik has written about how tillage affects the carbon levels in soil.

"Soil organic matter holds large amounts of carbon, which is also an important part of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane," Brevik said. "Replanting forests, protecting and restoring wetlands and good agricultural practices can all help increase the amount of carbon stored in our soils -- and keep it out of our atmosphere."

But deforestation, draining of wetlands and poor agricultural practices releases large amounts of carbon and contributes to the greenhouse gas effect, Brevik said.

Brevik addresses the issue of "desertification," or the rapid loss of topsoil and plant life on land in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. This problem is caused by excessive tillage of soils. But desertification can be prevented with good soil management, he adds.

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October 13, 2019, 7:19 pm PDT

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