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If you want to be safe from earthquakes, plant some trees!

By: , Posted on: April 22, 2018

If you imagine that planting is sagacious for the health of individuals on the planet, the implication would be beyond the imagination!

So mundane is the matter. Planting enriches the environment for occupants’ and neighborhoods’ health. Planting not only enhances quality of life but also downscales the carbon emission attributed to transportation of construction materials. The statistics are grave.

Let us consider some historical earthquakes. Access the book chapter on this topic published in the book Impacts and Insights of the Gorkha Earthquake highlights that wooden structures during all of the major earthquakes were unharmed.

Refurbishment of wooden structures is easy. Adaptability, maintenance, low toxicity, as well as deconstruction are all assured with woods when compared to other material counterparts.

Planting per the demand and refurbishment make wooden resources renewable, though indirectly. Equivalent plants could be planted in a planned way, so renewability is high!

Thousands of works have been done to highlight the performance of wooden structures during independent hazards, cascading hazards, and single events. When composited with other materials, wooden structures have left a considerable impression. Nepal’s reconstruction after the Gorkha earthquake endorses timber bands in masonry structures to assure life safety of occupants.

Sustainability in structural engineering demands the use of wood. Importing concrete to isolated locations emits a lot of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide. Choice of concrete structures as opposed to wooden construction is not ideal for the remote locations where wood is abundant and can be grown easily. Opting timber over masonry would be a wise resolution that saves lives, property, environment, and ecosystem as well.

Using concrete should onward be followed by payment for ecosystem services (PES). The communities beside the ores seldom get benefits in developing states, if not globally. PES in the case of wooden structures would be minimal, if not negligible. Growing trees makes sense at least in rural areas worldwide that would help create large fraction of people multi-hazard resilient.

The recent trend of multi-hazard damage shows very high aggravation. With the climate change factor, aggravation would further increase exponentially. Climate responsive indigenous techniques would be a localized solution. Assemblage of climate responsive indigenous techniques with vernacular multi-hazard resilient techniques would be a superior strategy. The pith is wood, so planting is the first resort. For several folds, planting alone works.

A priori sensibility is the déjà vu of natural hazards and performance of structures. As the world is slightly adopting wooden skyscrapers, so would be the case of residential level construction. The better serviceability, the better safety against multiple susceptible hazards.

The scary soliloquy of concrete in the Everest base camp to the Dunes were seldom expected but the planting fell off year over year. Present day structural engineers firmly agree on Carl Linnaeus’s concept of planting for multi-hazard resilience, low carbon and greenhouse gas emission, healthy environment and livelihood, and minimal cost for PES which is the proposed avenue to balance the construction-environment-ecosystem dynamics.

Fig: Timber post supporting the roof in a masonry building in Nepal (Image by: Dipendra Gautam)

Fig: The five-tiered temple in Nepal which survived several notable earthquakes (Image by: Dipendra Gautam)

About the book:

Impacts and Insights of Gorkha Earthquake offers a practical perspective on disaster risk management using lessons learned and considerations from the 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal, which was the worst disaster to hit Nepal since the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake.




Key Features:

  • Includes the latest status of seismic risk, risk perception, to-date interventions and historical scenarios in Nepal
  • Examines details of Gorkha earthquake, including geo-seismicity, damage statistics, casualties, effect on cultural heritage, gender-risk mechanics, case studies of social institutions, urban-risk mechanics, rural-risk mechanics, resilience dimensions, social institutions in risk management, stories of resilience and failures and a critical review of efficacy of interventions in risk mitigation
  • Offers future insights and ways forward in terms of risk reduction studies, socio-cultural dimensions of risk management, scientific intervention and policy making, implementation of existing frameworks and endorsement of resilient practices for Nepal
  • Includes damage mapping in all affected areas

Need a copy of your own? Save 30% on Enter discount code STC317 at checkout.


About the editor:

Dipendra Gautam, a Research Coordinator, Structural and Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal, has been working for five years in the Nepalese disaster risk reduction sector focusing specially in earthquakes. His primary topic of research is structural earthquake engineering; previously he worked in several topics of geotechnical earthquake engineering and seismology. Apart from this, he graduated with a degree in Anthropology majoring in indigenous knowledge, which is fruitful to disseminate the ideas of local resilience. He worked for 7 months after the devastating Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. He has been involved in a research institution in Kathmandu and worked for almost 2 years as a Disaster Risk Reduction Expert. He has authored several research papers and presented quite a few works in international conferences.

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