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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Flagships of Restoration

Flagships of Restoration

The Decade of Restoration, 2021-2030 logo (credit: UNEP-FAO)

Little noticed, 10 ground-breaking initiatives were recognized for their goals to achieve environmental restoration by the year 2030.

Launched on World Environment Day, the Decade of Restoration was declared to ‘prevent, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide’. Designated as 'flagships', to be accomplished over the ten years, they were identified as being the first, best, and most promising examples of what could represent scaleable, long-term, restoration efforts that might be replicated elsewhere.

The projects were announced at a UN Biodiversity Conference held in Canada, along with a virtual celebration held to congratulate the project organizers. Primatologist Jane Goodall; the actor Edward Norton; singer Ellie Goulding; Inger Andersen of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), among others joined to celebrate the awardees. Together, the goal of these initiatives is to restore more than 68 million hectares (over 260,000 sq miles of degraded landscapes) and create nearly 15 million jobs in the process as well. Until 2030, new flagships will be considered by this global environmental program. UNEP produced a video about degraded ecosystems along with the opportunities and benefits restoring them could provide.

Two of the recognized examples included:

The Trilateral rainforest pact between Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina to begin restoring sections of the Atlantic Forest in all three nations. This unique rainforest once covered parts of their coastal regions but has now been reduced to degraded fragments from logging, ranching, and urban development. Multiple organizations are now involved in this decades-long pack to protect and restore the forest where it had once existed. Their efforts were recognized with a 'restoration flagship' award for creating wildlife corridors endangered wildlife like the jaguar and the Golden Lion tamarin; improving regional fresh water supplies; implementing reforestation to rebuild resilience to the impacts of climate change; and creating thousands of new jobs. Some 700,000 hectares (nearly 1.8 million acres) have already been replanted and the end-of-decade goal is to restore 1 million hectares, ~2.5 million acres. The South American partners also hope to have restored 15 million hectares (~40 million acres) to rainforest by 2050. This would be a major accomplishment.

Likewise, the Island States Restoration Drive, established by Vanuatu, Saint Lucia, and Comoros, was recognized for their reef-to-ridge restoration efforts to help recover their island's vegetation. The partners developed a 'blue economic growth' model for long-term sustainability on their islands in the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Ocean. Goals include a reduction in 'environmental stressors' that impact coral reefs making them vulnerable to storm damage. They envision fish stocks recovering from the improvied water quality. Likewise, other plans include replanting seagrass beds, mangroves, and mountain forests. The 3 nations intend to develop and share a toolbox of solutions for sustainable island development as well. Their plan will enhance the voices of other islanders who face from rising sea levels and intensifying storms resulting from regional climate change.

Everyone appreciates environmental restoration takes time. It is far easier to degrade a landscape or coral reef than to regain them. What will be particularly important is if these restoration efforts lead to sustainable results that could be applied elsewhere. WHB

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