As ecosystems everywhere suffer the consequences of human exploitation and we might be tempted to lose all hope, it’s important to shift the lens and acknowledge that in places, the planet is undergoing healing - thanks to those who are taking it upon themselves to work with nature and sow the seeds of tomorrow, slowly but surely.
One organisation that is drawing scores of volunteers to do this remedial work is Ecosystem Restoration Camps, a Dutch non-profit foundation that started as a Facebook group in 2016, and now has over 20 active camps across all continents – all of which are actively transforming degraded patches of land to thriving ecosystems once again.
ERC’s Facebook group began by connecting hundreds of people across the globe who felt compelled to act in these crucial times. Together, they worked tirelessly over a period of about a year, drew up a robust action plan, established ERC as a foundation, and eventually secured the first camp in Murcia, Spain in 2017.
Murcia is one of Spain’s main agricultural areas, becoming more degraded each year owing to intensive and large-scale farming. As soon as the camp was established here, volunteers began work to restore their part of this landscape into a green, diverse, healthy ecosystem capable of cultivating food far into the future.
ERC’s land restoration follows a carefully designed process, beginning with digging swales and sediment traps to boost water retention – since generally speaking, degraded landscapes are extremely dry, with most water running off and away. Simultaneously, volunteers plant nitrogen-fixing cover crops and apply compost, which, together with water retention, starts to rebuild soil health. What follows is a continual process of re-establishing a diverse ecosystem of plants, fungi and microorganisms, rewiring lost connections, so that the area becomes more and more robust and resilient.
The results from ERC’s camps are proving that even ecosystems pushed to the brink of collapse can be restored into thriving places of life and diversity. It’s inspiring to see these transformations over a few short years. And crucially, projects like these give every individual the opportunity to play their part in the Earth’s healing.
Learn more about how food & farming can heal our world in a series of gatherings with Vandana Shiva, Martin Shaw, Leah Penniman, Rob Hopkins and more experts in the field.#
Through talks and workshops, participants will learn from farmers, thinkers, nutritional experts and practitioners from around the world, gaining a deep understanding of dynamic solutions that are reviving ecosystems, communities and cultures globally, as well as ecological, cultural and practical approaches to transforming how we live, think and act.