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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 due to severe weather events last year, ten ground-breaking initiatives were recognized for their international goals to achieve environmental restoration before the year 2030.

Launched in 2021 on World Environment Day, the Decade of Restoration was declared to ‘prevent, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide’. Efforts designated as "flagships", to be accomplished over the ten years, would be identified as being the first, best, and most promising examples of scalable, long-term, restoration programs that might be repeated elsewhere.

The first restoration 'flagships' were announced recently at the UN Biodiversity Conference held in Canada, along with a virtual celebration held to congratulate the organizers.  Primatologist Jane Goodall; the actor Edward Norton; singer Ellie Goulding; Inger Andersen of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), and others join in to celebrate the awardees. Together, the goal of these initial 10 initiatives is to restore more than 68 million hectares (over 260,000 sq miles) and create nearly 15 million jobs as well. Until 2030, new flagship initiatives will be considered under this international environmental program.

The UNEP created a video on degraded ecosystems and the opportunities and benefits environmental restoration could provide.

Two examples of the newly recognized 'flagship' initiative include:

The Trilateral rainforest pact between Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina to restore the Atlantic Forest in the three countries. This unique rainforest once covered their coastal regions but has now been reduced to fragments due to logging, ranching, and urban developments. Multiple organizations are now involved in a 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 used by endangered wildlife like the jaguar and the Golden Lion tamarin; improving fresh water supplies for regional communities; 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 restored and the end-of-decade goal is to restore 1 million reforested hectares, ~2.5 million acres. The three South American partners also hope to have restored 15 million hectares (~40 million acres) to rainforest by 2050.

Likewise, the Island States Restoration Drive, established by Vanuatu, Saint Lucia, and Comoros, was recognized for implementing reef-to-ridge restoration efforts to help the island's unique ecosystems. They are developing a 'blue economic growth' model to help build long-term sustainability for their islands set in the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Ocean. Goals of their drive include a reduction in stressors on ecologically important coral reefs, that can make them vulnerable to storm damage, so fish stocks can recover and be maintained. Their restoration plans include replanting seagrass beds, mangroves, and mountain forests. These island nations want to develop and share a toolbox of solutions for sustainable island development elsewhere. Their flagship plans also aim to enhance the voices of other islanders face from rising sea levels and intensifying storm damages already resulting from climate change.

Everyone appreciates results from restoration ecosystems takes time to be realized. It is far easier to degrade an ecosystem than to recover its functioning parts. What is especially important will be if the current actions lead to sustainable results and that can be also be adopted to other degraded lands, mountains, and marine habitats needing restoration. WHB

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