Ecologist Paul Smith, from the University of Bristol, created a plan to build forests on the red planet after conducting research, suggesting long-term residence on Mars with small nature preserves.
Smith wants to create a terraformed habitat on Mars that would enable the human population to continue growing without sacrificing natural areas here on Earth.
The proposal was published in the Journal of Astrobiology but Mars’ cold, barren surface and lack of atmosphere reduce the chances of humans strolling for a fresh walk on the planet.
Growing plants on Mars would require a shield against ultraviolet light and cosmic rays, pressurised air, artificial heating, a lot of added water, and a way to get rid of toxic chemicals. However, Smith suggests a clear pressurised dome that will block ultraviolet rays, and creating a lava tube of martian rocks as a shield against harmful wavelengths.
According to Smith, “Mars’ forests would not resemble or function exactly like Earth’s forests but could still deliver wonder.”
Though NASA and other space agencies are preparing to build a long-standing colony on the planet, scientists believe that the chances of growing a forest are quite slim.
Astrobiologist Chris McKay told Inverse, that the idea 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”.
However, he also adds: “It is a long way from terraforming the planet.”