A forestry startup is boosting the ‘woodwide web’ in a bid to accelerate woodland regeneration
Spotted: From 2001 to 2022, the UK lost around 541 kilohectares of trees, equating to a 15 per cent decrease in tree cover across the country. There are increasing efforts to replant in previously forested areas, however, many of the saplings that are planted will never make it to adulthood, especially if they are planted in clear-felled areas or ex-agricultural sites. One reason for this is that the saplings lack a mycorrhizal support network.
The mycorrhizal support network, dubbed the ‘woodwide web,’ is a network of fungi in the soil. It is thought to be essential to the growth of healthy forests as it allows trees to share water, nitrogen, carbon, and other minerals, maximising growth. Startup Rhizocore Technologies is working to give saplings a healthier head start by restoring underground fungal networks to accelerate woodland regeneration.
Rhizocore grows ectomycorrhizal fungi, which form advanced symbiotic associations with trees in the beech, pine, willow, and lime tree families. The startup turns the fungi into pellets, which can be planted along with saplings, using the same process. The fungi then grow and connect the saplings into a web.
The company was founded in 2019 and has recently raised £3.5 million (around €4 million) in a seed funding round. The funding will help Rhizocore scale its solution and hit its goal to plant up to five million trees with accompanying fungal pellets in 2025.
While Rhizocore’s pellets are unique, they are not the only innovators working to restore the health of forest biomes. Other projects spotted by Springwise in the archive include planting microforests on degraded land and turning rainforests into ESG assets.
Written By: Lisa Magloff