Manifesto: The Global Forest Landscape Restoration Movement
Since 2013, I have become increasing involved in what is termed, “global forest and landscape restoration”. To the layperson, what this represents is protecting and reestablishing forests as well as sorting out the misuse of land and reimagining that already degraded. It looks at “landscapes” as things that can include cities, infrastructure and agriculture and asks how can we do this right – in a way that is lasting and beneficial not just to us, but to the environment in the broadest sense of the word. This journey has now taken me to work with several of the most important institution in the conservation and agriculture space and also several inspiring units within specific governments.
It is tempting for us humans to consider “restoration” as a “solution” – something that we should do to save ourselves and preserve our species. This is true, however, we would miss a much greater opportunity for redemption. Restoration is nothing short of a way to re-establish a reasonable relationship with our environment. It will support an abundance of life that would otherwise join the growing masses of extinct species most of which most people have never heard of or seen but that nonetheless represent(ed) life on earth.
And one of the tragedies is that these species possibly and probably contained within them answers to many of our challenges, from resilient crop strains to inconceivable scientific breakthroughs or medical cures from obscure plant life. That’s the life we cut down to make way for palm oil, sugar cane, or to produce more beefsteaks. And our feeble attempts at genetic engineering – as if our relative millisecond in the evolutionary technology spotlight qualifies us to participate - are opening doors to ever more danger creating super-resistant pestilences rather than offering the magic bullet that those doing it in order to profit in the short-term promised.
Genetic diversity, species protection, and replenishing our resources represent the best way forward. It is a movement that could and should take hold. But it can only proliferate itself as a “movement” if it is built on the right foundations. Restoration can and should be considered a way to save our planet. But it is much, much more than that. A restoration movement would represent a new junction connecting humans with the earth. If the reason for doing it is to sequester carbon, protect food resources, and find rain, then it will not work in terms of scale and systemic change. The fact is that restoration is deeper than this because it relates to our relationship with plant and animal life on earth.
Restoration also provides the opportunity for humans to interact with each other in a different way. The goodwill that would inherently be shared by all towards a sustainable world offers potential for intercultural cooperation dare I say it, “a new paradigm of human interaction”. If nothing else, a movement is after all a shared vision, and a common goal embedded with human endeavor. How this plays out at the local, continental and global levels is something that all of those who are part of it will have to co-create and navigate. But what could be better, and more appropriate as we finally seek to take ownership of, and reinvent our role on earth.
There is potential for a new relationship with our planet, one built on the willingness to co-inhabit and work together within cycles, production and protection systems, and restorative activities that create a sustainable planet and future. That’s it – that is the Restoration Movement. Excited? You should be! It is feasible, something that we can all engage in, and represents nothing less than an appropriate evolution for our species to become a true custodian of our planet and protector of its life and in fact our own.