Through biodesign, we engineered a material that mimics the biostructure of the endangered ash tree’s bark to support the continued growth of associated organisms.
With this material, we created a wearable that leverages human movement to build a reconnected habitat for these unassuming species.
Ash dieback is a disease that is eradicating 95 percent of the ash tree population in Europe. Fortunately, the ash won’t be gone forever, but the new population will take decades to grow. In the intervening years, hundreds of species of mosses, lichen and fungi that depend on the ash are losing their habitat and risk extinction.
Traditional conservation methods for these unassuming species can’t cope with this scale of habitat loss. To thrive and reproduce, the species need a specialised habitat and access to a diverse population, normally provided by a forest.
We designed HABITATE, a wearable that mimics the ash tree’s bark texture, light level and pH and leverages human movement to support species airborne reproduction. HABITATE provides a temporary home for these unassuming species and allows us to play an active role in maintaining biodiversity, breaking the cycle of conservation and destruction by cultivating a pattern of human-nature coexistence.
In an era of social distancing, this living wearable can be a tiny vibrant indicator of ecological-social connectivity, reminding us that no species is an island.