Generation Restoration is part of The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, launching on World Environment Day June 5th 2021. This is a movement driven by positive energy, passion, inspiration and a belief that we can restore the world’s ecosystems.
Right now, we are part of an incredible change to our planet: the well-known and dreaded climate crisis. Biodiversity numbers plummet around the world, our oceans are being plundered, fertile soil is eroding and raising temperatures increase the threat of desertification. The impacts are clear and we experience them in daily life; there are more extreme weather patterns; millions of people leave and migrate their homes from war or drought; and we are currently living through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The climate crisis is scary. And it is anxiety-inducing to think that we, a species part of the fabric of life on Earth, are responsible for the changes we witness around us. Human behaviour has led to the melting of Arctic glaciers, it is our appetite that drives deforestation of the Amazon and it is human ignorance which has silenced once thriving biodiversity rich areas around the world. I feel tremendous sadness when I think about all that was lost, or what could have been.
The natural world provides the ingredients for life on earth. Living nature offers clean water, oxygen, nutritious food, protection from flooding – just some of the “ecosystem services” that we need to live. This has long been known by many indigenous communities; some of whom defend abundant natural areas with their own lives.
Yet most of us currently deny ourselves access to this lifeline. Increased urbanization means that we distance ourselves from natural areas. This loss of connection may be one of the reasons that degradation across the world is on the rise.
Generation Restoration: turn anxiety into action
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a rallying call to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. It is a way of turning deforestation and degradation into restoration and regeneration. Of turning climate anxiety into climate action. We have the knowledge, tools and willingness to restore the world’s ecosystems, we just have to do it. The UN Decade is an opportunity to turn new and existing climate commitments into urgently needed action on the ground. It is a 10-year drive to pursue a restoration mindset, that will set a new way of being with the world in motion.
Let us act. Let us be good ancestors to the generations to come. Let us channel energy into a positive momentum for a better future. One which is creative, innovative, fair and driven by a collective understanding that a different world is possible. Let us be the Generation Restoration.
The movement is already in motion
Many amazing people around the world are already restoring connections to nature and taking up the rally cry of the Generation Restoration. On the 4 Returns platform you can learn about awareness-based landscape restoration from:
- A Spanish community in the Altiplano that is restoring life to the land and building resilient rural economies, while aligning food production with local ecosystems.
- An aboriginal-led process that is galvanizing people of Western Australia to walk together towards a new future.
- Dutch farmers working to restore a regenerative and rich peat meadow landscape south of Amsterdam.
- Local organisations and communities in South Africa who strengthen community to restore their landscapes and regenerate water catchment areas.
Do you want to get involved with the restoration movement? Great! You will only benefit by joining in the process of restoring ecosystems. The science shows that connecting to nature is good for us.
One study from 2015 found that “conscious connections to nature can and should be part of a healthy lifestyle”. Restoring ecosystems creates a sense of purpose, connection and belonging. Because when you restore life, land and ecosystems, you restore your mind, body and soul.
If you want to get your hands in the soil then check out Ecosystem Restoration Camps: a global movement of people that are creating abundant earth. There are more than 100 camps around the world. So, find one that suits you!
Connect with nature and be generation restoration
You don’t have to travel anywhere to restore ecosystems. If you live in a city, like me, there are still plenty of ways to get involved. The most important thing is to find some way of connecting with nature. Plant wild bee friendly flowers on your windowsill. Leave out water for birds on a hot day. Or simply find out about the soil where your food comes from. If we all begin regularly interacting with the nature on our doorstep, we will become more connected with what is happening in the world around us.
Download the bird net mobile app if you are curious to learn which birds are singing from your balcony. The app recognizes song call and immediately lets you know which bird is calling nearby. Soon your ear will be attuned to a whole new world.
Are you more into plants? Then check out firstname.lastname@example.org: an open-source and citizen science project to record plant diversity. The app will help you identify plants in your local park. And if you’re brave enough – research which plants are edible and give them a try!
Find a network of community gardens if you want to grow food and meet likeminded people. I work with a group of forest garden volunteers each Friday in Rotterdam. It is a fantastic way to be outdoors and have great conversations while getting your hands in the soil. (If you live nearby – check out the Rotterdam Food Forest and get in touch!).
There are so many ways to be part of the Generation Restoration! And if you want the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration to succeed, then find some way of connecting to nature – however small it may be. Because trust me, you will not regret it.
How are you going to join Generation Restoration? Let me know in the comments below!