Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Vietnam
“Restoration must plant seeds in the Earth, but it must also plant seeds in the hearts of people.” Anali Bustos, Restoration Steward
Under the banner of Generation Restoration, the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), have launched the Restoration Stewards program, to deepen the impact and highlight the work of young restoration practitioners and their teams, making positive change in their local landscapes.
On 29 October, the second day of the GLF Biodiversity Digital Conference, the Restoration Stewards were announced. After reviewing over 220 applications, six young people from across the globe were selected, each one leading restoration projects on one of the following ecosystems: drylands, oceans, peatlands, forests, mountains and wetlands. Over the course of one year, the selected Restoration Stewards will receive a grant of EUR5000, support by experts to further develop their projects, and will serve as ambassadors at global and local levels.
From Southern Kenya, Charity Lanoi, the project coordinator for community development initiative Oltumo Maasai Project, was announced as the Restoration Steward for drylands. She is aiming to restore degraded areas in Kuku Group Ranch through grass seed banks, tree planting, and beekeeping projects. “Grass seed banks will not only benefit the group of women economically, but also provide pasture for livestock,” she said. “In 2009, the pastoral community in Kenya lost a lot of livestock and wildlife because of a severe drought. I then realized that there is a need to establish restoration activities to build resilience of the community and provide conservation-oriented alternative sources of income.”
Grace Easteria from Indonesia, the carbon offset and growth manager at Indonesian offsetting firm CarbonEthics, was selected as the Restoration Steward for oceans. Her work is focused on restoring coral reefs in the Thousand Island area. “Seeing that the Thousand Islands are coral islands, coral reefs are greatly significant in the coastal protection of the local community,” she said. “Besides its ecological benefit, this project also provides income through restoration projects and tourism activities and helps boost up the potential of marine tourism in the Thousand Islands.”
Also from Indonesia, Sumarni Lama is an Indigenous Dayak, who was selected as the Restoration Steward for peatlands and coordinates the nationwide Youth Act movement of Indigenous young people speaking out about the issues faced by their communities and territories. She is working on peatland restoration in two areas in Central Kalimantan that are important for Dayak livelihoods and are also vulnerable to wildfires. “My homeland has been experiencing forest fires annually during the dry season for 23 years,” she said. “It is hard to see your lush forests turn to ashes. Therefore I want to take an active role in restoring my degraded land and making it green again.”
In Argentina, biologist Analí Bustos is working to restore the unique dry, thorny Espinal forests of the Córdoba province through a restoration initiative called “Reserva Natural Monte Alegre”’ and was selected as the Restoration Steward for forests. “El Espinal is one of the most degraded forest ecosystems on the planet,” she said. “We have lost much of its diversity and coverage, while many people are not aware of its particularities and richness. Restoration must plant seeds in the earth, but it must also plant seeds in the hearts of people. This is the only way for restoration results to be enduring over time.”
Meanwhile, Steward Marlon Webb from Costa Rica was selected as the Restoration Steward for mountains and seeks to restore watersheds in Boruca Mountains, on which numerous ecosystems and communities depend, through the ‘Bosques para nacer agua’ (Forests to birth water) project at local environmental NGO Diwo Ambiental. “Communities depend on these mountains mainly for fresh water,” he said. “However, the degradation of this vulnerable ecosystem is increasing. It is a fundamental need to restore this ecosystem and the society depending on it. That is why at Diwo, we partner with the Bruncajc Indigenous Women’s Group “So Cagru” to restore the Boruca mountains, conserve fresh water and preserve cultural heritage.”
Finally, Frances Camille Rivera from the Philippines, selected as the Restoration Steward for wetlands, is the co-founder of Oceanus Conservation Inc and hopes to enhance bottom-up wetland restoration across the Philippines archipelago, by educating local communities and environmental officers on effective restoration practices. “One of the activities is to restore unproductive fishponds and other barren areas around the country back to mangroves,” she said, “so that the areas become fertile and productive to enable possible alternative livelihood to the mangrove-dependent communities.”
These passionate, skillful young changemakers are already making waves in their respective restoration practices; stay tuned to see their restoration adventures unfold, with extra support, mentoring and resources on their side.