After conducting research that suggested long-term residence on Mars with small nature preserves, ecologist Paul Smith from the University of Bristol developed a strategy to construct forests on the red planet.
Smith intends to construct a terraformed habitat on Mars that would permit the continued expansion of the human population without compromising Earth’s natural resources.
The idea was published in the Journal of Astrobiology, but Mars’s cold, arid surface and lack of atmosphere make it less likely that humans would walk around the planet for the first time.
A shield against ultraviolet light and cosmic rays, pressurized air, artificial heating, a lot of water, and a way to get rid of toxic chemicals are all necessary for growing plants on Mars. However, Smith suggests creating a transparent pressurized dome to block ultraviolet rays and a lava tube made of rocks from Mars to protect against harmful wavelengths.
“Mars’ forests would not resemble or function exactly like Earth’s forests, but could still deliver wonder,” declares Smith.
Even though NASA and other space agencies are getting ready to set up a long-term colony on the planet, scientists think it won’t be easy to grow a forest.
The concept was “probably the most complete study of what comes after a first human base on Mars, which might have a small greenhouse for food production, and before attempts to fully terraform Mars,” as astronomer Chris McKay told Inverse.
On the other hand, he adds: The planet has not yet been terraformed.”