How to Start a Regenerative Agriculture Movement in Your Community
By Regeneration International
The most important, although as of yet little known, new paradigm shift and set of practices in the world today is regenerative agriculture, or rather regenerative food, farming and land use. Regeneration practices, scaled up globally on billions of acres of farmland, pasture, and forest, have the potential to not only mitigate, but actually reverse global warming and, at the same time, provide solutions to other burning issues such as poverty, deteriorating public health, environmental degradation, and global conflict.
The world-changing promise of regeneration lies in the fact that a large scale increase in plant photosynthesis (i.e. drawing down CO2 from the atmosphere, releasing oxygen, but transferring a major proportion of carbon into the plant roots and soil) made possible by fundamental changes in farming, grazing and land use practices, (along with the transition to 100 percent renewable energy) across billions of acres, can drawdown enough excess CO2 from the atmosphere into our living soils, plants, and forests to reverse global warming and re-stabilize the climate.
And as this great drawdown and re-carbonization of the soil and biota takes place, civilization will also reap a wide range of additional benefits: a qualitative increase in soil fertility, increased soil moisture (rainfall retention), the return of regular rainfall and weather patterns, major increases in food production, nutrient-rich food, enhanced biodiversity, rural and urban economic development, and millions of new "green" jobs.
Currently the most fundamental obstacle to scaling up regenerative practices on a global scale is the fact that only a small percentage of concerned citizens, farmers, ranchers, land managers, consumers and policy makers have ever even heard the "good news" about regeneration, much less been educated so as to understand it thoroughly. Our initial task therefore as regenerators is basic public education, to spread the message of regeneration as widely as possible, and to organize and inspire core groups, coalitions, pilot projects and policy reforms in every town, city, village, state, region and nation in the world as quickly as possible.
Beyond Organic: How Regenerative Farming Can Save Us From Global Catastrophe https://t.co/KJt6fzXKTB @SoilAssociation @eatsustainable— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1496611503.0
The following action plan is designed to jump-start this long overdue process, starting at the local level, eventually spreading into thousands of communities across the globe.
Step number one
Educate yourself on the basic principles of regenerative food, farming and land use. Learn how to explain in everyday language why people all over the world are embracing regenerative food, farming and land use as a fundamental solution to climate change and related crises. Move beyond the prevalent gloom and doom talk on climate change and global warming and offer positive solutions that everyone: farmers, gardeners, landscape managers, educators, consumers, students, businesspeople, policy makers and the entire global body politic can begin to implement.
Develop and hone your understanding and enthusiasm to the point where you can begin to successfully inspire and recruit others to the cause. This may take a while, but through practice and trial and error you will be able to improve your outreach and recruiting. Begin by starting conversations with people you feel comfortable talking to, people concerned about the climate crisis and related issues; but people who haven't yet heard, or who haven't heard much, about regeneration; before you try to speak to community, school, business, activist or church groups. Avoid for the moment wasting your time arguing with climate deniers and other dogmatists, and strive to reach out to those with an open mind. You'll know you're ready to go out in the community and give talks and slideshows once you can convince and inspire people—one-on-one—in your local circle of family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances.
On the regenerationinternational.org website, you will find a set of basic educational tools—articles, videos and a PowerPoint presentation—that you can study, and then share with your first circle of potential regenerators. For more in-depth study, here is an annotated bibliography and a daily newsfeed.
Step number two
Form a small core group (Circle of Regeneration) with four or five others (or more) who understand and are truly inspired by the basic principles of regenerative food, farming and land use.
Prime candidates for recruitment might be local food, church, climate, political or farm activists; concerned parents; school teachers; students; gardeners; farmers or artists. Arrange a series of potlucks or study groups to increase your core group's understanding of the issues and to brainstorm about what groups you could possibly reach out to in order to expand your circle. Use the website and Facebook page of regenerationinternational.org to keep abreast of current developments in the global regeneration movement. Once you've formed a core group, register your contact information and sign up as an affiliate with Regeneration International.
Step number three
Familiarize yourself and your core group with the Global 4/1000 Initiative on Soils and Food Security, a local to international pledge to take action, signed by hundreds (and soon to be thousands) of grassroots organizations, cities, states and nations as part of the Lima-to-Paris Climate Summit agreement to sequester carbon through regenerative practices on a scale that can begin to reverse global warming.
The importance of the 4/1000 Initiative is that it is the only global local-to-national climate agreement to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere in order to reverse climate change. Think of the 4/1000 Initiative as sort of a Global Declaration of Interdependence, an acknowledgement (and a pledge to take action) coming from a visionary segment of the world's seven billion people (three billion farmers and rural villagers, and four billion consumers) to regenerate the earth and mobilize the global grassroots.
Regeneration activists in more than three dozen countries are now using the 4/1000 Initiative as a tool to do outreach, to enroll organizations to formally join the Regeneration Movement, and to build up coalitions to lobby town, city, county, state, and national governments to pass resolutions and ordinances in support of the 4/1000 Initiative. Regeneration International's goal is to get 100,000 community based organizations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to sign on the 4/1000 Initiative by 2020, and then to use this grassroots power to convince thousands of cities, states and nations of the world to do the same.
Step number four
Develop with your core group and allies a strategy and a plan of action to reach out, one-by-one, to as many groups and organizations as possible in your local area and region.
Your goal should be to map out and recruit key individuals in key groups, winning them over so that they "connect the dots" between what their organizations are already doing, and the global campaign to regenerate the earth and restore climate, soil and hydrological (water cycle) health. Target groups for discussion and recruitment should include: student groups, church groups, food, farm, climate, peace, hunger, immigration and environmental groups, and any other civic organizations with open-minded members.
Step number five
Once your local regeneration core group has carried out extensive public education in your area, built up a critical mass of organizations who have formally signed onto the 4/1000 Initiative and begun to lobby your local town, city, state or regional governmental bodies to sign on to the formal 4/1000 Initiative, please contact the Regeneration International office for further advice on how to arrange regional and national meetings, spread the Regeneration message even further, and to publicize and scale-up Regenerative pilot projects and best practices in your region. For a list of endorsed "Regeneration Hubs" or model pilot projects, see: http://www.regenerationhub.co/en/
By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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