Let us Celebrate the International Day of Forests by Learning Innovation Inspired by Nature

United Nations in 2012 established the International Day of Forests to highlight the importance of trees and the damage that deforestation has on the global climate.

Today in the 2019 theme is Forests and Education. The aim is to teach children about the value of forests and how to protect them for the future. 

According to the United Nations, 18 million acres of forests are lost every year, which is about the size of Panama. This equates to 2055 acres every hour. Deforestation accounts for 12-18% of the world’s carbon emissions, which is equal to the effect of global transportation. Let us make an effort to teach our children to minimize the use of paper.

There is lot to learn from nature. In 1997, the publication of Janine Benyus’s seminal book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, the methodology has especially taken root in the fields of design, architecture, and engineering. The practice of looking to emulate nature for innovation and sustainable solutions (a.k.a. biomimicry) has risen and there are hundreds of biomimetic examples and we illustrate few:

Kingfisher-Inspired Bullet Train

Bullet train that borrows the aerodynamic form of a kingfisher’s beak; or non-toxic adhesives inspired by blue mussels. In 1964, the Japan’s Shinkansen Bullet Train was a marvel of modern technology. But there was one major problem after its initial debut: noise. When the train emerged from the tunnel, the change in air pressure caused thunder like sounds. The train’s chief engineer, a bird-watcher, had an idea: taking inspiration from the shape of a bird’s beak to make it more aerodynamic. The result was a design based on the narrow profile of a kingfisher’s beak, resulting in a quieter train that also consumed 15% less electricity and went 10% faster than before.


Swiss engineer George de Mestral was captivated by plant burrs and their ability to stick to clothes and his dog’s hair. Inspection under the microscope helped him to notice that they had many small hooks radiating in different directions that could catch on any irregular, soft surface. This led to the same thing synthetically, and invented what we now know as velcro. The name Velcro also has a dope etymology — it is a beautiful portmanteau of the French words “velours,” meaning velvet, and “crochet,” meaning hook.

Wind Turbine

Frank Fish, a biology professor at West Chester University was intrigued by humpback whales. Whales weigh more than 80,000 pounds typically, but are agile swimmers. Fish incubated the the idea of adding bumps like this to wind turbines. The motion of fins that humpback whales use to swim is quite similar to that of a wind turbine.

Discovering relevant and inspiring biological examples, one can develop creative journey of biomimicry thinking. These are tools of innovations. The book My Experiments with Innovation highlights these in one of the chapters. Learn about how to make Imagination – Purpose – Relevance in your journey! Build your Innovation pH balance. Purchase the upcoming book – My Experiments with Innovation. A practical guide to inculcate Habits and Lifestyles to drive innovation!

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