Last week was 2020’s International Biodiversity Week, a week aimed at celebrating the vibrancy of the natural world whilst also highlighting what we must endeavour to protect. For me, in the current context, this year’s theme: “Our solutions are in nature”, is particularly poignant. In what I see as a moment of resetting, reorientation, and reconsideration - with many calling for a COVID-19 exit strategy which places the state of our natural world at its centre - I think it is more important than ever to emphasise nature’s immense power. This is the time to reassess our relationship with the natural world, so that we can move forward sustainably, with and for the environment, using the planet’s intrinsic restorative capacity.
One thing I must make clear is that relying solely on the powers of nature to mitigate the consequences of climate change will not work. Each and every one of us also has a role to play, whether that manifests in small day-to-day changes or political agitation. However, understanding that our natural world actually has some fantastic solutions to the problems we are seeing can help us to support projects that encourage nature to do its thing.
One thing I must make clear is that relying solely on the powers of nature to mitigate the consequences of climate change will not work.
According to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (2014), our land use - think agriculture and forestry - accounts for 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Through implementing agroforestry, reforestation and afforestation programmes, especially in tropical regions, we could seriously reduce our impact on the land, create natural carbon sinks, and help eco-systems to adapt to the changing climate. As part of the “25 Year Environment Plan”, the U.K. government has pledged to develop a ‘Nature Recovery Network’, throughout the country. This will consist of an interconnected system of places important for wild plants and animals, both on land and at sea. Just as our roads allow us to move from place to place, the Recovery Network would facilitate the free movement of plants, animals, seeds, nutrients and water.
In a similar vein, there are now several Rewilding projects throughout the U.K., which are committed to helping the return of wildlife, and expanding their habitats. Not only does this help the natural environment to recover, but these initiatives also work to create natural carbon sinks, revitalise the wildlife and the soil, as well as helping people to connect with their surroundings and often creating opportunities in the local community.
Nature has an in-built restorative capacity, it is time to educate ourselves about what that means, how it works, and what role we can play. Although a great first step, at this point, greening our economies is not the sole solution to mitigating our impact on the environment, we need to also reconsider our relationship with nature, so that any changes we make now are changes for the present and for the future. Through schemes such as Rewilding, Nature Recovery Networks, and Reforestation, we can harness nature’s own ingenuity to help the climate recover sustainably. Nature takes carbon out of the air and stores it away for us.
Through schemes such as Rewilding, Nature Recovery Networks, and Reforestation, we can harness nature’s own ingenuity to help the climate recover sustainably.
Forests, mangrove swamps, salt marshes and the sea bed are natural carbon sinks. Peat turns dead plants into stable carbon stores. The return of wild animals to their natural environments can reduce carbon emissions too. These are all processes which, once upon a time, functioned properly and easily. It is our influence that has held Nature back from re-balancing the atmosphere’s chemistry.
This is not a complicated, innovative technological solution to the Climate Crisis, this is nature’s automatic setting. This is a return to a natural cycle which human intervention has disrupted. The solution is right in front of us, nature can heal itself, we just have to help it.
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By Louder Than the Storm Co-Founder Aimee Lister