What goes up must first flow down

One of Project Persephone's medium-term goals is to launch remote sensing satellites in low equatorial orbit, to support efforts to predict disasters, monitor them in progress, and aid in relief efforts. Landslides are one major class of disaster, and these often destroy swathes of forest, in part by burying timber that might otherwise have been sustainably harvested.

Equatorial mountain regions also feature cloud forests. Cloud forests are a very valuable resource for small hydro, because they precipitate moisture with their leaves, and buffer the flow of water from watersheds with their root systems. In this way, they both increase the amount of water available for hydroelectric power and store water in ways that permit dams to stay relatively small. A slope stripped of its forest cover by a landslide will have less watershed-buffer value; the landslide might effectively disable a small dam in its path. Remote sensing together with hydrological and ecological data gathering assisted by local peoples should help in determining where forests require the greatest protection.

Project Persephone's initial development agenda may focus most strongly on the support of existing initiatives in sustainable forestry in these regions, and to help bring the benefits of small hydro to communities favored with nearby cloud forests. The Project will also provide training, tools and access to markets for fine wood-carved craft products. In all this, wherever it serves carbon sequestration goals, social impacts do need to be considered.1

As one of its longer-range programs, Project Persephone proposes the use of equatorial mountain regions for projectile space launch. The organization aims to help make any such launch infrastructure rely as much as possible on the resources of such regions (including their human resources) to sustainably support the projectile style of launch. Trees are obviously the greatest single source of raw biomass in these regions; trees offer the greatest potential benefits to both local communities for various uses, both new and traditional, and to Project Persephone as a potential chemical feedstock for launch fuel production.

However, up to timberline altitudes, many equatoral mountain regions feature forests with valuable timber; the timber harvest must somehow be kept sustainable during global climate change, which already exposes some high-altitude forests to new threats. Meeting the SPEC requires the Project Persephone address these threats responsibly. The Project must find ways to balance the need to support local wood-based livelihoods with the need to preserve and rebuild the resource. To the extent that wood is still an important fuel for locals, R&D on local renewable energy sources for the needed heat, such as geothermal energy and small hydro, and perhaps the biogas output from methane digesters should help reduce the forestry burden.


1 Avoiding 'carbon colonialism': Developing nations can't pay the price for pollution https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/550313-avoiding-carbon-colonialism

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