Over the course of the next decade, beginning 5 June 2021, people from all countries, age groups, landscapes, sectors and general walks of life will be met not only with the urgency of tackling climate change, but also with a message of hope that we can together overcome our environmental challenges through restoring the Earth’s degraded ecosystems. Welcome to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a ten-year effort led by UN Environment (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), and a host of other partners, including the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF).
As this major new awareness-raising and action-starting campaign begins, hear from the GLF’s six Restoration Stewards, who are young environmentalists already leading restoration initiatives in their native landscapes around the world, as they share their vision for what they believe we can achieve in this decade and beyond.
My name is Grace Easteria, and I was selected as a Restoration Steward from Indonesia for ocean landscapes. Coral reefs play an invaluable role in maintaining our ocean’s biodiversity. Indonesia’s coral reef ecosystem encompasses an astonishing 2.5 million hectares, accounting for 14 percent of the world’s coral reefs. Unfortunately, coral reefs will potentially cease to exist in the future as a result of pollution, overfishing and climate change. With a slow growth rate of 1 centimeter per year, corals can take up to 100 years to reach a height of 1 meter. With that in mind, I hope that during the decade ahead, we can see an expansion of marine protected areas. I also hope to see increased collaboration between stakeholders, such as NGOs, private sector and the government, to plant corals in an effort to restore coverage in Indonesia. Together, we can help conserve our coral reefs!
I’m Charity Lanoi, working for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust and as a Restoration Steward restoring the drylands. During this Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, I would like to change the attitude of my community toward restoration through trainings on the importance of restoration and how to do restoration projects, and also demonstrating to the community the broader impacts of having a large number of livestock compared to having less but high-quality livestock.
Hello, my name is Marlon. I am from Costa Rica and the general director of the Diwo Ambiental organization. This year, I was chosen as part of the Global Landscapes Forum’s Restoration Stewards program for mountain ecosystems with the Bosque para hacer Agua project. The project is to generate both ecological and social restoration in the Indigenous community of Boruca, seeking to restore the mountains that surround the community and are of great importance for the ecosystem and for the community’s water supply. Now that we are beginning with the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, we as an organization hope it will be a fundamental moment for leaders in politics, science and business to take the initiative of the Decade as a flag to begin to act. Also, the COVID pandemic makes evident that the well-being of ecosystems is also fundamental to our well-being, and it is an opportunity to change our economic and life models and seek not only sustainability but also the regeneration and restoration of the planet that is our home. We are at a pivotal moment to act –not to stand still – and to seek to adapt, not only to COVID but also to the context of climate change that has been dragging on for decades. It is time to act, and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is the ideal time to do so.
I’m Camille from the Philippines. I’m one of the Global Landscapes Forum’s Restoration Stewards focused on wetlands. This is the mangrove forest that we restore and protect with our NGO (Oceanus Conservation) this year and in the years to come. We are doing this in support of all restoration practices around the world. We seek to show the best practices to restore mangrove forests. If we can do it, so can you! We dream to unite as one to improve restoration in the Philippines – not just the quantity but also the quality and diversity of what we plant. We hope there is strong policy on the protection of our mangroves, because this is our way to a better future. We encourage all leaders to provide incentives to our community and the local government units. And I call on all people to give importance to our forests and educate themselves so our children and our grandchildren will receive the benefits of nature.
My name is Sumarni Laman. I am an Indigenous Dayak Ngaju from Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. I am a Restoration Steward for peatland ecosystems. Peatlands, for we the Dayaks, are valuable. They provide us our livings, water and homes for all creatures. But for 24 years, peatlands have experienced annual forest fires. Forest fires not only emit carbon emissions to the atmosphere and toxic haze that tortures millions of Kalimantan people, but they also destroy millions of hectares of peatlands, the home of animals. The fires have burned many ancient local tree species that can only grow in peatlands. Peatlands are at the brink of destruction if we do not do something to protect them. This is the reason why we – Youth Act Kalimantan – call and empower youth and local communities to restore peatland ecosystems, re-plant and protect local tree species, and educate people on the importance of peatlands. The benefit of peatlands is not only for Kalimantan people but also for the whole world, because these ecosystems can provide a solution for the climate crisis that we are facing now. I hope that we can, hand-in-hand, protect peatland ecosystems from fires and restore the burned peatlands in collaboration with local communities. Thus, the peatland restoration efforts will not only benefit local people but also all people tackling the climate crisis.
Hello everyone, my name is Analí Bustos. I’m a biologist from Argentina working on ecosystem restoration, and I am one of the Global Landscapes Forum’s Restoration Stewards for forest ecosystems. For the last four years I have been working on a project in the center of Argentina, in the Monte Alegre Nature Reserve. This area is home to the Espinal ecoregion, which is an ecosystem featuring xerophilous deciduous forests with great biological diversity. Located in flat, fertile lands, these forests have been particularly affected by the expansion of the agricultural frontier. Nowadays, all that is left are small forest areas, which, for the most part, are excluded from any natural protected area. In addition to protecting its wonderful biodiversity and ecosystem services, it is necessary to recover this forgotten landscape as an element of cultural identity. Many people are unaware of its peculiarities and benefits due to the intense transformation it has undergone in recent decades. For this reason, it is important for society to take ownership of the restoration process and care of this ecosystem, so that this common good will last from generation to generation. It fills me with hope to know that the actions we are taking in Monte Alegre are recognized at the beginning of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, because I believe that when humanity moves together in the same direction, it can achieve unimaginable things. We must do this, not only to heal degraded landscapes in order to fight the climate crisis, but also to improve food security and water provision and to protect biodiversity. We have a great job ahead.
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