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"Combining Smart Trees and Tree Talker Technology to Fight Air Pollution in Arizona"

PHOENIX -- A Nobel Prize winner is among the lauded scientific talent working to implement the newest carbon-capture technology to reduce air pollution in Phoenix and transform a landfill into a park-style setting filled with both living and 'mechanical' trees.

"Dr. Ricardo Valentini will work with us to install his new TreeTalker technology in our first Waffle Forest project. We're awaiting approval from the City of Phoenix to reclaim an old landfill," said Waffle Forest Founder Ernest Lerma. "We'll start with 100 smart trees and aim to plant 10,000 trees in total. This will clean the air and beautify the neighborhood by creating a park setting."

Currently Director of the Division of Climate Impact at the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Changes and a professor at University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy, Valentini received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As Waffle Forest's chief scientific advisor, Valentini will train local technicians to install and use TreeTalkers.

"A TreeTalker is a small device mounted to each tree to measure its growth and general health and send this information to a nearby data server every hour," Lerma explained. "TreeTalkers reveal a tree's absorption of carbon dioxide, track its growth, the amount of water it needs, and alert us if it's under attack from insects or fungi. We'll also add direct-air-capture devices like 'mechanical trees' to further reduce air pollution."

The Waffle Forest name comes from the 15-by-15-foot-square footprints of the "smart tree" installations, which resemble a waffle pattern. The public will be able to sponsor individual "waffles" for use as gifts or memorials.

A South Phoenix native, Lerma grew up in a low-income neighborhood rife with pollution. The Waffle Forest will to improve environmental, social, and aesthetic conditions in South Phoenix by combining two strategies to removal carbon from the air: organically through photosynthesis and technologically through direct-air capture.

"Once we receive City approval, the 19th Avenue Landfill will be revitalized by our Waffle Forest. We're excited to be at the forefront of creating healthy environments for child development in South Phoenix, which can help prevent complications in cognitive and physical health," Lerma explained. "Studies show enhancing the environment improves family relationships and crucial developmental stages of children and can help reduce the socioeconomic disparity in living conditions there."

For more information, to learn about waffle sponsorship opportunities or make a donation, visit or email Waffle Forest is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

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