Over the past 4.6 billion years, through trial and error, earth’s natural systems have gone through the most laborious and rigorous research and development phase of any technology in the world. They’ve become efficient, closed loop systems that operate at high levels of efficacy- locally specific, robust and very complex. Wetlands filter water. Mangrove swamps reduce storm damage. Mushrooms filter heavy metals. The list goes on.

We’ve spoken about the value of wetland systems on Life in Balance before, and have reflected on the multiple types of value that a richness in biodiversity offers.

But this admiration for the natural world and the power of natural systems in dealing with waste is not just conceptual revealing. In fact, the solutions the challenges we face are deeply embedded in the ecosystems that thrive on this planet and if we observe and understand them well enough we can emulate these systems in highly useful and effective ways reducing our destructive impacts and improving the world around us.

Dr. John Todd is an internationally respected biologist who has taken the observation and study of life to the next level- pioneering ecological solutions to environmental challenges. For the past 40 years Dr. Todd has used ecological design principles to create what he calls ‘living machines’ which have begun to revolutionise traditional techniques of waste water management and food production.

Essentially, Dr. Todd and his team create living ecosystems that rely on natural processes to treat waste water, generate fuels, provide food and more. The result is beautiful and lush aquatic gardens that restore highly contaminated water by combining a mix of plants, fungi, bacteria, and animals that serve specific purposes throughout the process.

“Through decoding the language of ecosystems, it is now possible to utilize nature’s operating instructions. From this knowledge living technologies, or Eco-Machines, can be designed and engineered to treat wastes, purify waters, generate fuels, produce foods and restore polluted habitats.”

Take a look at this video of Dr. Todd discussing the technology:

For more information on the work that Dr. Todd does visit www.toddecological.com.

Now, in partnership with the amazing Biomimicry SA, Dr. Todd and his wife Nancy are visiting South Africa to offer their years of expertise to lucky workshop and expedition participants. The workshop will run from the 5-6th of October at the Spier Wine Estate outside in Stellenbosch and promises to be an absolutely incredible and inspiring experience for participants. It promises to be a practical and informative two days, that will hopefully result in some genuine innovative results.

If you have a fascination with the magic of nature and how humans can harness it’s potential to mitigate the harm we cause our planet, this workshop is for you. The applications for this technology are truly astounding, and very necessary. For more information on the workshop, visit www.biomimicrysa.co.za.

Dr. Todd, Nancy Todd and Biomimcry SA are also facilitating an expedition to the Okavango Delta to experience the true beauty and intelligence of natural systems in Southern Africa’s most diverse wetland ecosystem. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, but, unfortunately, the limited space for this amazing adventure has been filled already. Good luck to all those who managed to secure a place!