Conservation news

Podcast: Is ecosystem restoration our last/best hope for a sustainable future?

Reindeer calf at Lake Inari in northern Finland, image © Markus Mauthe / Greenpeace

  • On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we take a look at the growing movement to restore degraded ecosystems worldwide. The decade of 2021 to 2030 has been declared the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
  • Author Judith Schwartz joins us to discuss her 2020 book The Reindeer Chronicles: And Other Inspiring Stories of Working with Nature to Heal the Earth, which documents numerous restoration projects around the globe and highlights the ways the global ecological restoration movement is challenging us to reconsider the way we live on planet Earth.
  • We’re also joined by Tero Mustonen, president of an NGO based in Finland called the Snowchange Cooperative, who tells us about the group’s Landscape Rewilding Programme, which is “rewilding” Arctic and Boreal habitats using Indigenous knowledge and science.

Today we’re taking a look at the growing movement to restore degraded ecosystems around the globe.

Listen here:

Ecological restoration refers to a range of human activities designed to promote the recovery of ecosystems that have been so disturbed that their structure has been altered and their healthy functioning has been impaired. Researchers are increasingly warning that human actions have so depleted the natural world that the ability of Earth’s ecosystems to sustain future generations is far from guaranteed.

The restoration of degraded ecosystems has become so urgent, in fact, that the decade of 2021 to 2030 has been declared the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which the UN says is “a rallying call” to ramp up efforts to protect and revive ecosystems worldwide. “Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity,” according to the UN.

We’re joined on the podcast today by author Judith Schwartz, whose 2020 book The Reindeer Chronicles: And Other Inspiring Stories of Working with Nature to Heal the Earth documents the growing global movement focused on ecological rehabilitation. Schwartz shares with us some examples of the inspiring restoration projects from around the world that she features in the book, how an ecosystem’s ability to handle the flow of solar energy is a measure of its health, and what gives her hope that we can build a sustainable future.

We’re also joined by Tero Mustonen, president of the NGO Snowchange Cooperative. Mustonen tells us about Snowchange’s Landscape Rewilding Programme, which aims to rewild Arctic and boreal habitats using both traditional Indigenous knowledge and science. He also tells us why this approach, combining indigenous knowledge with science, is such a powerful means of restoring ecosystems, and gives us a more ground-level view of ecological restoration by telling us about the program’s efforts to rewild the Koitajoki River basin in Finland.

Here’s the 2018 episode of the Mongabay Newscast in which we discussed “The dialogue between science and Indigenous knowledge” with Tero Mustonen:

And for your further listening pleasure, here’s “David Suzuki on why Indigenous knowledge is critical for human survival”:

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Reindeer in Ivalo, Finland, part of Sápmi, the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people. The Indigenous Sámi communities here have practiced traditional reindeer-herding for generations where the reindeer depend on old-growth forests and lichen for winter forage. Photo © Jani Sipilä / Greenpeace.

Banner image: Reindeer calf at Lake Inari in northern Finland, image © Markus Mauthe / Greenpeace.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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