Ecosystem Restoration

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UNDP Ecosystem-Based Adaptation portfolio is supporting one of the projects which helps developing countries to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change using nature-based solutions in the Kingdom of Tonga. This includes restoration, rehabilitation and management of coastal ecosystems

Ecosystem Restoration

The Regenerative Restoration of Ecosystems

The Rescue Earth System is focused on restoring ecosystems, conserving habitat, and regenerating the natural systems that sustain all life on Earth. Ecosystem restoration is defined as a process of reversing the degradation of ecosystems, such as landscapes, lakes and oceans to regain their ecological functionality; in other words, to improve the productivity and capacity of ecosystems.

This can be done by allowing the natural regeneration of overexploited ecosystems or by using the regenerative restoration principles of the Regenerative Design Framework to dynamically enhance the regenerative capacity of natural systems — to speed up regenerative capacity by focusing on natural mechanisms that can be amplified by human interventions.

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Wetland restoration along the Târnava Mică (Tîrnava Mică) River in Romania. A former gravel mine (left) was transformed into a functional wetland (right).
© CEEweb for Biodiversity

Ecosystem Restoration Camps are a practical, hands on way to restore land degraded by humans. Our mission is to work with local communities and build camps that transform degraded landscapes into lush, abundant, life-giving ecosystems. 

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There are many areas throughout the world that are severely degraded. Although the erosion of this landscape in Kenya can never be repaired to its original state — we can (for example) restore ecological function by using Leaky Check Dams to capture soil and rehydrate the gullys (dongas) and nature will return
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Ecosystem restoration and regenerative development together offer a practical pathway to redesign the human impact on Earth. This is the path towards becoming healers of the Earth and in the process heal ourselves and our relationships with each other and the community of life. We are all called to join together and to overcome the silos between disciplines, sectors and ideologies in an unprecedented collaborative effort to restore ecosystems everywhere and to heal the Earth — Daniel Christian Wahl 

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, approved by the General Assembly on the 1 March 2019, will run from 2021 to 2030 and emphasize scaling-up of restoration work to address the severe degradation of landscapes, including wetlands and aquatic ecosystems, worldwide. It will likely boost landscape restoration work to the top of national agendas, building on a public demand for action on issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and the resulting impacts on economies and livelihoods.

Ecosystem restoration is fundamental to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, mainly those on climate change, poverty eradication, food security, water and biodiversity conservation. It is also a pillar of international environmental conventions, such as the Ramsar Convention on wetlands and the Rio Conventions on biodiversity, desertification and climate change.

Valuing Ecosystem Function higher than material things is the paradigm shift that determines whether we understand the meaning of our lives and survive or whether we remain ignorant and selfish and destroy our own habitat trying to gain more wealth or more power. If we reach this level of understanding, not only can everyone live on the Earth but the natural systems on Earth can reach their optimal ability to sustain life. — John D. Liu (2016).

Get Involved

In preparation for the Decade’s launch, everyone can help raise the visibility and level of ambition for ecosystem restoration. Depending on your background consider the following actions:

  • On an individual or small scale, you can become active in a local conservation organization, support research, plant trees, improve the ecosystem around you, or educate others on the value of ecosystem restoration
  • Think about how your work can, or does, contribute to ecosystem restoration. Start strategizing on your contribution to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
  • Communicate the opportunities that the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration can bring to your organization and to the constituencies you work with, and share it widely
  • Get in touch with the organizations supporting the implementation of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and bring up ideas of in-country, regional, and international opportunities to scale up ecosystem restoration by, for instance, fostering partnerships, disseminating technologies and knowledge, and unlocking resources for the implementation of restoration action in all ecosystems.
  • Identify gaps that this UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration can address through the global movement and join forces with others who are actively involved in pushing forward the global ecosystem restoration agenda.
Note: This report is the current edition of The National Provisioner’s ongoing coverage of issues related to sustainability programs.

Global food companies are stepping up to the plate to keep afloat the idea that corporate social responsibility is not just a moral call but definitely is good for business. To that end, sustainability is not merely a 21st century buzzword or a way of window dressing for a company’s annual report.

In a study conducted last year by Chicago-based Information Resources Inc., half of U.S. consumers polled indicated they consider at least one sustainability factor when selecting brands to buy or stores for shopping. Reportedly 22,000 U.S. consumers were asked to determine the impact of four key sustainability features in their product and store selection — organic, eco-friendly products, eco-friendly packaging and fair treatment of employees and suppliers. One-fifth of the respondents were classified as “sustainability driven,” taking at least two sustainability factors into account when making their selections.

The food industry is paying attention. Green initiatives topped the agenda of a poultry processor workshop sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPEA) last summer.

Vernon Rowe, corporate environmental manager for Pittsburg, Texas-based Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., confirmed that opinion polls show that going green is becoming a priority for consumers. Overall, the sustainability program is regarded as a commitment that will save money, not as one that will increase costs.

“That’s our charge,” Rowe said, “to figure out how to become more sustainable in the area of packaging, for example, but not drive the cost of products up.”

Poultry industry environmental managers gathered in Nashville recently for the 2009 Environmental Management Seminar, an annual conference also sponsored by USPEA. The agenda covered best practices, new ideas, and current and upcoming regulations impacting poultry environmental management.

David Miller, director of research for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and chief science officer of AgraGate Climate Credits Corp. explained the structure of AgraGate, created to deliver carbon credit aggregation services to American farmers, ranchers and private forest owners. AgraGate expanded the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Carbon Credit Aggregation Program that began in 2003. For more information, visit www.chicagoclimatex.com. Notably, President Barack Obama’s budget plans included a cap and trade program to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

At the same meeting, George Hazard of Red Barn Consulting/Red Barn Trading discussed nutrient trading, allowing communities, private and municipal wastewater-treatment plants to meet target goals of reducing nutrients in wastewater through a similar credit trading program.

Chicago Meat Authority (CMA), a Chicago-based, privately held company specializing in custom beef and pork value-added products, began its “Think Green” initiative last year in March. The initiative incorporates the company’s corporate commitment to environmental responsibility through sustainable practices involving programs to reduce pollution and waste, using appropriate energy resources and materials and protecting the environment the firm impacts with its products and services. Moreover, company officials hope that the workplace focus on protecting the environment will inspire employees to do the same in their home lives.

“It’s about changing culture and hoping these work habits make their way into everyone’s household,” confirms Wayne Bartosiak, CMA’s IT manager. “As one company, we can only do so much. However, others can take notice and together, we can save the planet for our children.”

Bartosiak heads CMA’s employee group of green keepers charged with prioritizing the concept of “thinking green” by becoming proactive environmental stewards. Office employees have begun to cut down on paper waste by using double-sided printing of documents, reprinting on the reverse of previously used paper and file-sharing documents electronically to reduce printing. To reduce electricity use, employees turn off lights when leaving a room and also their computer monitors when away from their desks. Plant employees have stepped up their commitment to recycling cans. Boxes for packaging are Sustainable Forestry Initiative-certified and corrugated boxes are made from recycled materials with approximately 43 percent recovered fibers.

For Hormel Foods’ Lloyd’s Barbeque Co., becoming a better environmental steward means revamping its packaging. The move is backed up by a recent Mintel study in which more than one-third of Americans indicate they almost always or regularly buy green products. The findings remain unchanged from last year, despite the current economic downturn. Moreover, continued growth is forecast at 19 percent for green products overall through 2013.

Lloyd’s is responding to environmental demands and consumer preferences by greening the packaging of its popular BBQ tubs by eliminating the throw-away paper sleeve. Now, all dietary and product information is printed directly on the tub, which saves more than 970 tons of wood or 6,000 trees annually.

The new tub also features “stay cool” handles, which make it easier to remove the heated container from the microwave. The change proved favorable during in-store testing, as consumers found the new packaging on the BBQ tubs to be more contemporary and of higher quality overall.

Not to be left out, the seafood industry has attracted the attention of investment community members seeking to fund companies marketing sustainable seafood. A San Francisco operation, Sea Change Investment Fund reportedly looks into companies with investment potential based on profitability and their offerings of environmental benefits.

Based on U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, one-quarter of the world’s fisheries face depletion due to exploitation practices. Added to that another half of global waters are being fished at maximum capacity.

Sustainability: historical perspective

Variously coined “green movement” and “environmental revolution,” sustainability in all its guises is an age-old phenomenon that has periodically gained new momentum over time.

Consider that air pollution was blamed on animal manure, dust and wood smoke among other contaminants long before the industrial revolution. Henry David Thoreau, the 19th century American philosopher and conservationist, promoted the conservation of and respect for nature including the federal preservation of virgin forests in his book “Maine Woods.”

Experts says global ecosystems have deteriorated dramatically during the past 50 years or so in connection with the rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel.

To be sure, facing a depletion of the earth’s natural capital is forcing global attention on matters of sustainability.

Sustainability: what the world needs now

Sustaining the environment is fast becoming a mandatory model for business progress among all sectors that seek to reduce landfill waste and do the right thing for the environment to put money in their company coffers.

A study commissioned by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) found that successful companies define sustainability as a top strategic priority while taking a structured and methodical approach to practices. The 2007 study, titled “Sustainability: Balancing Opportunity and Risk in the Consumer Products Industry,” was conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP.

“This study tells us that sustainability is not just about ‘going green’ — it involves competing in a different world with constantly evolving issues and expectations,” noted Stephen Silbert, GMA senior vice president of industry affairs. “GMA will continue to develop the compendium of retailer practices to foster and enhance collaboration between manufacturers and retailers on sustainability initiatives. Such cooperation is mutually beneficial and, more importantly, helps companies meet consumer demands.”

Last year, Perrysburg, Ohio-based Owens-Illinois Inc. (O-I) appointed a 20-year veteran, Jay Scripter — who has general management, operations, Lean Six Sigma and engineering experience in both the chemicals and building materials sectors — to serve as its vice president of sustainability.

“We believe that sustainability is a key value driver for competitive advantage in our future,” Rich Crawford, O-I president of global glass operations said at the time. “This role will have a powerful influence on O-I competitiveness, the image of glass and the competitive position of the glass industry as a whole.”

Scripter’s job includes focusing on building O-I’s capabilities in the key disciplines of sustainability and to develop the strategies, management processes and key initiatives designed to position glass as “the most sustainable” packaging material. He also has oversight concerning key opportunities involving energy, environmental compliance, safety, recycling and related issues.

In 2007, Michael Dell, chairman and founder of the computer company by the same name, implored the electronics industry to join a tree-planting movement to compensate for the environmental impact of energy consumed by their devices.

Meanwhile, the same year under the Bush administration, the U.S. House of Representatives embarked on a “Green the Capitol” initiative, including a series of strategies such as purchasing electricity generated from renewable sources, installing energy-efficient lighting, reducing the use of coal at the Capitol power plant and switching to hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.

“Global warming and climate change are formidable issues that the entire world is confronting, and the United States Congress must lead by example,” noted Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

 

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