“Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.” – Greta Thunberg
Ecological restoration is a hugely important tool for addressing and reversing the climate catastrophe. It offsets climate change by increasing carbon storage in soils and vegetation, and can influence the Earth's reflectivity, which can have significant regional effects.
All restoration contributes incrementally to support the biosphere, including combating anthropogenic climate change caused by runaway greenhouse gas emissions. Every restoration practitioner is part of a global restoration movement which combats climate change, even though restoration projects are necessarily "local." Every contribution counts.
At the global level, two important initiatives link ecological restoration with addressing the climate emergency. The Bonn Challenge has a goal to restore 350 million hectares of degraded ecosystems by 2030 - an area the size of India. It is estimated that with this restoration, US$ 9 trillion in ecosystem services would be generated and 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gasses would be taken out of the atmosphere. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which began in June of 2021, can help realize the goals of the Bonn Challenge and accelerate other restoration work. The UN Environment Programme called it an "unparalleled opportunity for job creation, food security, and addressing climate change." In the spring of 2020, EHN helped craft a paper outlining six restoration strategies to support the Decade.
At the local level, EHN members are engaged in regenerative organic agriculture, forest restoration, restoration in urban areas, and other activities that directly contribute to addressing climate change. We are working hard to better establish the arguments for investing in nature-based actions for carbon sequestration, expand the public's understanding about the importance of ecological restoration to improving climate outcomes in the short and long term; and demonstrating what can be done now to help reverse the global march to climate catastrophe.
Every aspect of the EHN's work is linked to addressing the climate emergency. For example, improving soil biodiversity and plant diversity dramatically increases soil carbon sequestration. We believe that by recognizing the fundamental linkages between ecosystems and human health, and considering biodiversity as fundamental to individual, community, and cultural well-being and resilience, people and the planet will find paths to healing. It is this restorative culture that EHN has joined and aims to grow.