The world’s ecosystems – forests, farmlands, cities, wetlands, grasslands, oceans, waterways – which are critical to supporting life on Earth are in danger. The next ten years offer the last opportunity we have to prevent catastrophic climate change and further loss of biodiversity, according to scientists.
To this end, Greenpop is working with the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration as a supporting partner of a co-ordinated global call to action to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. This initiative will launch on Saturday, World Environment Day and run from 2021 to 2030. Greenpop, a registered NPO, works in sustainable urban greening and forest restoration projects, spreads environmental awareness, and activates people to become environmental stewards across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Misha Teasdale, director of Greenpop, says this new decade has begun shaken by the COVID 19 pandemic, and by the looming creep of a changing climate. It’s due to human activity that plant and animal species across the world have been steadily disappearing, causing an alarming decline in Earth’s biodiversity. If this trend of decreasing biodiversity is not reversed, the planet will not be able to support current and future generations of people. Teasdale says, “Humanity has been on a rampage against nature. We need to start working with nature as her ally.”
This can be achieved by growing trees, greening cities, rewilding gardens, changing diets and cleaning up rivers and coasts. The UN says, “We are the generation that can make peace with nature”.
“Never before has this work been more critical, and never again will we have this opportunity to recorrect and move our trajectory to one of living in balance with the natural world,” says Teasdale.
Why we need to restore ecosystems
- Nature supports people. We rely on ecosystems to regulate the climate, provide us with food and absorb our waste. But the natural is under stress: We have been exploiting it for too long.
- Our ecosystems are continuing to degrade, and they can no longer provide the benefits they did in the past.
- The degradation of ecosystems affects the well-being of 3.2 billion people – 40 percent of the world’s population – and costs more than 10 percent of global gross domestic product annually.
- Restoring productive ecosystems is essential to supporting food security. For instance, by adopting agroforestry in agricultural systems the food security of 1.3 billion people can be improved.
- Restoration will play a critical role in helping us mitigate climate change and adapt to the impacts that are already occurring. In a changing climate, restoring upland forests and watersheds could save water utilities in the world’s 534 largest cities an estimated $890 million each year.
- Almost one third of emerging infectious diseases are linked to land-use changes, such as deforestation and forest degradation.
- Restoration contributes to health and well-being. Ecosystem restoration helps to regulate disease and reduce the risk of natural disasters.
For South Africa, this call to action holds great potential to meet social and economic needs. The department of forestry, fisheries and environment recognises that biodiversity is an important contributor to job creation and currently sustains over 418 000 jobs.
Greenpop was founded in 2010 and has since planted over 150,000 trees and inspired over 160,000 active citizens across South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. One of Greenpop’s projects has been helping the reforesting and restoring of an indigenous forest in the Overberg region of Platbos in the Western Cape. Founder of the Platbos Reforestation Project Francois Krige says, “The reforestation and restoration at Platbos over the last 10 years has undoubtedly reversed the process of fragmentation that started in the colonial era and sped up dramatically with alien-fuelled fires in the last few decades. The strategic planting of trees has made a huge difference to our efforts to conserve the ancient remnants of forest. These fragile systems persevering in a radically altered and disturbed environment are holding so much diversity and much intervention is required to sustain them.”
We have one final chance to prevent, halt and reverse the loss of ecosystems; to prevent climate catastrophe; to stem the growing tide of pollution and waste, and to halt biodiversity loss.
Greenpop has teamed up with Ecosystem Restoration Camps to initiate a dialogue that explores going beyond tree-planting for global restoration. Join the Dialogue – Beyond Trees: The new way forward for inclusive ecosystem restoration at 7pm, Saturday 5 June 2021. This discussion will dive deeper into what it takes to have a successful, community-based restoration project and you’ll hear perspectives from two organisations on the ground.
- Saturday 5 June 2021
- To sign up see details here.
Find the full schedule for World Environment Days is here.
You too can protect what is left and repair what has been damaged. Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. This World Environment Day join #GenerationRestoration.”
Want to make a difference
For ideas on what actions to take you can download the Ecosystem Restoration Playbook which provides an introduction to the range of actions that can slow and halt the degradation of ecosystems and foster their recovery. Download the Playbook here, and join #GenerationRestoration.
- United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration – www.decadeonrestoration.org
- World Environment Day – www.worldenvironmentday.global
- Beyond Trees: The new way forward for inclusive ecosystem restoration – Greenpop and Ecosystem Restoration Camps – www.ecosystemrestorationcamps.org/un-decade-launch-event/
- One-fifth of ecosystems in danger of collapse – here’s what that might look like – The Conversation – www.theconversation.com/one-fifth-of-ecosystems-in-danger-of-collapse-heres-what-that-might-look-like-148137
- Why Experts are Saying It’s a ‘Make or Break’ Moment for Forests – IPS News – www.ipsnews.net/2021/05/experts-saying-make-break-moment-forests/