There’s been a big decline in nature globally and the need for restoration is ever-growing. The RESTORE documentary series explores ten places, including Saint Lucia, where nature is making a comeback.
Saint Lucia is recognised as one of the first ten World Restoration Flagships that fall under the United Nations (UN) Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Overall, these initiatives offer hope as countries have agreed to a new Global Biodiversity Framework.
What is the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration?
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 aims to:
“Prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.”
The Decade unites the world behind this one common goal, specifically starting with the restoration and protection of ecosystems. These include; grasslands, forests, croplands, wetlands, savannahs and other inland water ecosystems. Don’t forget about coastal ecosystems and urban environments.
The importance of the New Global Biodiversity Framework
Representatives from 188 countries reached a new agreement at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada, to guide global action on nature. The Global Biodiversity Framework is the result of many years of negotiations and aims to ‘halt and reverse’ biodiversity loss. The idea is to reach a series of targets, with the cornerstone being the goal of conserving 30 per cent of the world’s land and 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Meet the UN’s first 10 World Restoration Flagships:
Countries have committed to reviving 1 billion hectares of coasts and lands. Herewith are the 10 First World Restoration Flagships chosen by the UN. They stretch across 23 countries and cover all ecosystems. From the highest peaks of mountains to the bottom of the ocean, from the smallest islands to the vastest grasslands. Altogether, these are thought to be the most ambitious, promising and inspirational examples of making peace with nature.
The UN honours these ground-breaking efforts from around the globe for their role in restoring the natural world. These initiatives have been declared World Restoration Flagships and are eligible to receive UN-backed advice, funding or promotion. Selected under the banner of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, this global movement is designed to prevent and reverse the degradation of natural spaces across the planet.
1. Abu Dhabi Marine Restoration.
Wanting to ensure that its coastal ecosystems are resilient in the face of global warming and rapid coastal development, Abu Dhabi has already restored some 7,500 hectares of coastal areas with another 4,500 hectares under restoration for 2030.
2. Ganges River Rejuvenation.
With a major push towards cutting pollution and rebuilding forest cover, restoring the health of India’s holy river, the Ganges, is a major initiative. The result could bring a wide range of benefits to the 520 million people living in the surroundings.
3. Multi-Country Mountain Initiative.
The regions that form part of this initiative; Serbia, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Rwanda, showcase projects that make mountain ecosystems more resilient while delivering benefits to communities and supporting wildlife. Thanks to the protection of their habitat, gorilla numbers have doubled in Uganda and Rwanda over the last 30 years. In Kyrgyzstan, snow leopards are slowly bouncing back and brown bears have returned to the forests in Serbia.
4. Small Island Developing States (Comoros, Vanuatu and St Lucia).
They collectively place over 100 000 hectares under restoration. This flagship is prioritising ridge-to-reef restoration of unique ecosystems and aims to build economic growth. Goals include; decreased pressure on coral reefs which are vulnerable to storm damage. The hope is that fish stocks can recover. Other ecosystems under restoration include seagrass beds, mangroves and forests. It is very important that the voice of island nations is raised about the challenges they face with rising sea levels and intensifying storms as a result of climate change.
5. Trinational Atlantic Forest Pact.
Did you know that The Atlantic Forest once covered a belt of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina? As a result of centuries of logging, city development and agricultural expansion, it has sadly been reduced to fragments. Hundreds of organisations are active in the effort to protect and restore the forest in all three countries. To list these efforts include protecting wildlife, securing water supplies, fighting climate change, and job creation. 700,000 hectares have already been restored and the 2030 target is 1 million hectares. The 2050 target is 15 million hectares.
6. Great Green Wall for Restoration and Peace.
This ambitious initiative aims to restore grasslands, savannas and farmlands across Africa. The goal is to assist families and biodiversity with ways to cope with climate change. It seeks to transform the lives of millions in the Sahel region by creating a green belt and productive landscapes across 11 countries.
7. Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative.
The Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative has been working to restore the steppe, semi-desert and desert ecosystems. These used to be home to the critically endangered Saiga antelope. The Saiga population fell to 50,000 in 2006 but rebounded to 1.3 million in 2022. As a result, the initiative has also helped conserve wetlands that are a vital stopover for an estimated 10 million migratory birds.
8. Building with nature in Indonesia
The low-lying coastal community of Demak can be found on the main island of Indonesia: Java. This community has been affected by flooding, erosion and the loss of mangroves. Markedly, the Building with nature in Indonesia initiative has used fence-like structures with natural materials all along the shore to act as a buffer that calms waves and catches sediment. This innovative solution creates conditions wherein the mangroves can rebound naturally as opposed to just replanting more. The total length of permeable structures spans 3.4 km and 199 ha of mangroves have been restored.
9. Central American Dry Corridor
The people and ecosystems of the Central American Dry Corridor are especially vulnerable to climate change. 2019 marked the fifth year of a drought that left almost 1.2 million people in need of food aid. Specifically, this restoration flagship covers six countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica. Presently, traditional farming methods are being used to increase the biodiversity of landscapes. For instance, a brilliant example is the way that agroforestry systems are integrating tree cover crops like cardamom and cocoa that both boost water availability and boost soil fertility. In essence, the ultimate goal is to have 100,000 hectares under restoration and create 5,000 permanent jobs by 2030.
10. Shan-Shui Initiative in China
Another ambitious initiative combines 75 large-scale projects to restore a range of ecosystems. The projects seek to boost multiple local industries, including agricultural and urban areas as well as natural ecosystems. An example is the Oujiang River Headwaters Project in Zhejiang province. Interestingly, what they’ve done is integrate scientific findings with traditional farming methods, like slope terracing and combining crops with fish and duck-rearing to make the land more useful. 3.5 million hectares have been restored so far with a target of 10 million hectares by 2030.
Follow these inspiring journeys with the RESTORE documentary series
Enjoy this documentary series as it explores each of these initiatives and how they are slowly tackling and succeeding at their goals according to the new GBF. New episodes of the RESTORE documentary series are released every Monday.
Herewith is the timeline of episodes of the RESTORE documentary series:
- 27 February 2023. RESTORE: The Dry Corridor
- 6 March 2023. RESTORE: The Sinking Shore
- 13 March 2023. RESTORE: Ancient Wisdom
- 20 March 2023. RESTORE: A River Back to Life
- 27 March 2023. RESTORE: Big Ocean States
- 3 April 2023. RESTORE: The Climate Frontier
- 10 April 2023. RESTORE The Golden Steppe
- 17 April 2023. RESTORE: The Forgotten Forest
- 24 April 2023. RESTORE: The Mighty Mountains
- 1 May 2023. RESTORE The Great Green Wall