Globally two billion hectares of severely degraded land are the earth’s potential for rehabilitation through forest and landscape restoration. Of this, 1.5 billion hectares are suitable for mixed mosaic landscape restoration, where forests and trees are combined with other land use, including agro-forestry and smallholder agriculture. In September 2011 the Bonn Challenge pledged its commitment to restore 150 million hectares of lost forests and degraded lands worldwide by 2020.
The EEMP’s Vision
The EEMP’s goal of creating a future without poverty in a world with intact ecosystems is not one for the faint of heart. The EEMP pledges to freely contribute its knowledge, its films and its ability to foster understanding about ecosystems from its modest base of operations.
Remedying degraded ecosystems at the planetary level has to be a movement fostered by like-minded partners. There has been much focus on problems and little stress on the known and tested solutions. Bringing this positive message to everyones’s attention is part of the EEMP’s contribution among its partners. It enjoys linking its documentary and synthesizing capacities to the work and discoveries of others — for instance by documenting the excellent but low-profile remedial work done by organizations such as the permaculture or the bio-dynamic farming movements.
The work has been forging an alliance between major players and influencers what promises one day to be a powerful force for change in how the global economy will run. It hopes to how help us all define and ensure the value of natural resources. There are even examples of direct influence or EEMP in shaping of policy: Rwanda, after serious study of problems with hydropower systems, recognised, that the whole ecosystem’s breakdown of the highlands had led to the poor outcomes of water resources, thus sparking a redefinition of sustainable economic development.
In February 2011, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Rwanda Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative was formally launched.
Linking Ecology and the New Economics Paradigm
In our existing economic thinking, productivity is assumed to be the basis of value and the Earth’s ecosystems are considered “externalities”. In reality, productivity can only be realized if the ecosystems from which the products are extracted are functioning.
“Valuing productivity without valuing function creates perverse incentives to degrade the environment, by providing immediate financial reward for extracting from nature, but not calculating the real costs. To continue to grow the economy, we need to endlessly produce and consume more than the planet can bear and this will ultimately destroy our ecosystems. We cannot shop our way out of the economic crisis. Within “business as usual”, there is no logical way out of this conundrum.”
Restoration techniques have been around and known for at least 30 years; findings may have originally been piecemeal but learning circles are bringing their information together from China to Rwanda, and from Louisiana mangroves to Scandinavian forests and boosted by the internet and social media.
The learning is in place but the restoration activities cost money – what has not been well understood is the immense potential value that is restored along with the ecosystems. Wasteland becomes usable land; biologically dead soils become fruitful, and many mal-nourished communities can be revived if the right holistic thinking is applied. It could be visualized as a Garden of Eden story told backwards, an idea captured in the title of an EEMP film “Back to the Garden”.
We want to work with others who can help us get acceptance for these ideas and push for a shift in consciousness among economists, the corporate world, and in mainstream media messaging. The EEMP needs help, camaraderie and funds to keep working energetically on all these fronts.
Below is set out what the EEMP is working on in 2014/2015. The projects below require partners, funding and project management:
Training Research and Innovation Centres: The EEMP and many others want to develop a network of Research Training and Innovation Centers (TRICs) for ecological restoration that are designed to make actionable the awareness that humanity must and CAN restore ecological function to the Earth rapidly. The network will allow this by building training facilities to disseminate the skills necessary for ecosystem restoration on every continent. These skills include skills like rainwater harvesting, water retention landscapes, holistic land management, optimized soil creation, indigenous and endemic seed saving and creating permanent agriculture systems.
The network will further link local and international efforts to achieve the scale necessary to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to prototype community based transformation and restoration as a driving force for sustainability. This model allows for optimizing of both local and international capabilities, bringing resources, management skills, technology transfer, capital resources, labour, and education together. This helps to empower communities, addresses the most pressing need of local populations (like desertification, food insecurity and poverty), helps bridge the digital divide by utilising broadband internet access, thus sustaining culture, tourism, health care and recreation within a collaborative community environment.
- Requirements: Funding and partners to establish actual training centers around the world. Experts are required to teach at the centres. Volunteers of all ages are required to attend classes and get hands-on experience of restoration techniques.
- Results: A web of centers across the globe searching and sharing about restoration techniques so that more and more degraded lands are restored and knowledge grows about how to heal our Earth.
Visit our Facebook site for more information and to join in the discussion. This site is to allow for the collaborative design of research, training and innovation centers to serve large-scale ecosystem restoration worldwide.
Visual Ecological Database (VEDA): Through an online platform, EEMP could make widely available its video library of best solutions for ecosystem restoration for anyone in the world to access and make use of.
Requirements: Investment in an online storage system.
Results: A database with over 1000 hours of film footage, which could be used by anyone on Earth to learn about, research or explain ecological restoration (schools, universities, governments, think-tanks etc).
To read more about VEDA, go to our VEDA page
Ecological Restoration Speaking Tour: The EEMP and IUCN’s ability to disseminate information about the latest science, policies and actions in relation to restoration relies on John D. Liu being able to visit new places, re-visit to track progress and interview experts across the world.
- Requirements: Investment to expand John’s speaking tour and support his ability to travel by organizing ‘cluster’ speaking events and filming opportunities in cities and rural areas across the globe. This requires staff to organise such events and identify opportunities, seek partners in each location and ensure all logistical and technical requirements are met. Funding is required for logistics, airfares, ground transportation, accommodation costs and living expenses.
- Results: A well-managed, efficient and effective speaking tour.
Film distribution: The EEMP distributes its films for free. This provides audiences all around the world with the chance to learn more about restoration. In 2012 alone, EEMP signed broadcasting agreements with Citizen TV (an African based broadcaster), CCTV (a Mainland Chinese broadcaster, with the potential of reaching millions of Chinese citizens), LINK TV (a U.S. based broadcaster) and Natural Heroes (an Emmy Award winning series in the U.S.) to broadcast its films.
- Requirements: Support to distribute films through dedicated individuals working to negotiate with broadcasters across the globe, provide translations, sub-titles and dubbing support.
- Results: Educational films seen by millions of people across the globe
Making a feature length film: The EEMP, with support from Commonland, the IUCN NL and others, would like to make full-length feature films to document the latest science about restoration, as well as progress made and issues faced in countries like Rwanda, Bonaire, Ecuador, China, Hong Kong, South Africa, North Korea (DPRK), Tasmania, India, Mali, Ghana, Nepal, Bolivia and Peru
- Requirements: financial support to write, direct and produce a feature length film that will be shown around the world.
- Results: If this film were able to reach across the globe with the restoration message and into strategy groups, schools, universities, think tanks and NGOs, we believe significant change could be achieved.
For more information about plans for a feature length film, visit our Earth’s Hope page.
Developing a global volunteer network: connecting thousands of people all across the globe to help with the restoration effort. Many people see John’s presentations and films and want to know what they can do. This project provides people with a chance to physically help the restoration effort.
Requirements: stakeholders in specific locations to join this effort to gather volunteers, through social media channels, film screenings, meetings and calls to action.
Results: Engaging large amounts of people in actively helping to raise awareness and bring restoration projects to life. Volunteers could also be involved in the Vocational Training Centers development work. Giving people a chance to put their inspiration into action.