A global network that promotes and practices regenerative agriculture & land-use to cool the planet & feed the world. To promote, facilitate and accelerate the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.
Soils are crucial to managing climate change. They contain two to three times more carbon than the atmosphere. Plants circulate carbon dioxide from the air to soils, and consume about one-third of the CO2 that humans produce. Of that, about 10–15% ends up in the earth.
Carbon is also essential for soil fertility and agriculture. Decomposing plants, bacteria, fungi and soil fauna, such as earthworms, release organic matter and nutrients for plant growth, including nitrogen and phosphorus. This gives structure to soil, making it resilient to erosion and able to hold water. Typically, organic matter accounts for a few per cent of the mass of soil near the surface.
Increasing the carbon content of the world’s soils by just a few parts per thousand (0.4%) each year would remove an amount of CO2 from the atmosphere equivalent to the fossil-fuel emissions of the European Union1 (around 3–4 gigatonnes (Gt)).
Back when I first started at Green America, in 2000, I remember our president/CEO Alisa Gravitz often cautioning those of us on the editorial team against using the term “end” when it came to climate change. There simply wasn’t a solution available that would “end” or “stop” the climate crisis, she would say. The best the world could hope for was collective action that would curb the worst of its effects. We’d get excited about a set of climate solutions and write that they could help “end global warming,” and Alisa would shake her head sadly and ask us to strike the word “end” for accuracy.
Photo credit: Pexels
That’s not to say that she wasn’t optimistic about the potential of renewable energy—particularly solar—to make a dent in climate change. Or that she wasn’t hopeful that businesses could come up with some powerful innovations.
More than one-fifth of current greenhouse gas emissions in the United States could be kept out of the atmosphere and stored in the land, according to new research.
A study led by Joseph E. Fargione, director of science at The Nature Conservancy, looks at the natural solutions that could help the US do its part to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (approximately 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the goal adopted by the 195 countries who signed the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015.
Photo credit: Pexels
Fargione and team examined 21 natural climate solutions that increase carbon storage and help avoid the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, including conservation and restoration initiatives as well as improved management of forests, grasslands, farmlands, and wetlands. According to a study published in the journal Science Advances last week detailing their findings, the researchers’ analysis reveals that all of these natural climate strategies combined could reduce global warming emissions by an amount equivalent to about 21 percent of US net emissions in 2016.
“We found a maximum potential of 1.2 (0.9 to 1.6) Pg CO2e year−1 [petagrams of CO2 equivalent per year], the equivalent of 21% of current net annual emissions of the United States,” the researchers write in the study. “NCS would also provide air and water filtration, flood control, soil health, wildlife habitat, and climate resilience benefits.”
The majority — some 63 percent — of the climate mitigation potential of natural solutions in the US is due to increased carbon sequestration in plant biomass, with 29 percent coming from increased carbon sequestration in soil and 7 percent from avoided emissions of methane and Nitrous oxide. Of the 21 natural solutions the researchers analyzed, increased reforestation efforts had the largest carbon storage potential, equivalent to keeping 65 million passenger cars off the road.
“Reforestation has the single largest maximum mitigation potential (307 Tg CO2e year−1 [teragrams of CO2 equivalent per year]),” the researchers write. “The majority of this potential occurs in the northeast (35%) and south central (31%) areas of the United States. This mitigation potential increases to 381 Tg CO2e year−1 if all pastures in historically forested areas are reforested.”
Forests provide a number of other solutions with great potential, such as increasing carbon storage by allowing longer periods between timber harvests and reducing the risk of mega-fire through controlled burns and thinning of forests, the researchers found.
“One of America’s greatest assets is its land. Through changes in management, along with protecting and restoring natural lands, we demonstrated we could reduce carbon pollution and filter water, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and have better soil health to grow our food — all at the same time,” Fargione said in a statement. “Nature offers us a simple, cost-effective way to help fight global warming.”
Fargione and his co-authors note that close to a million acres of forest in the US are converted to non-forest every year, mostly as a result of suburban and exurban expansion and development, but that this source of greenhouse gas emissions could be addressed with better land use planning.
“Clearing of forests with conversion to other land uses releases their carbon to the atmosphere, and this contributes to rising temperatures,” said co-author Christopher A. Williams, an environmental scientist and associate professor at Clark University in Massachusetts. “Land owners and land managers are thinking about how they might use their land base to slow the pace of climate change, but until now they lacked the data needed to assess this potential.”
Williams added: “We estimated how much forest is being lost each year across the U.S., and the amount of carbon that releases to the atmosphere. Turning these trends around can take a dent out of global warming, and now we know how much and where the potential is greatest.”
The researchers also estimated the emissions reductions that could be accomplished for $10, $50, and $100 per megagram of CO2 equivalent, and found that 25 percent, 76 percent, and 91 percent, respectively, of the maximum mitigation could be achieved at those prices. This is a key finding, they say, because “a price of at least USD 100 is thought to be needed to keep the 100-year average temperature from warming more than 2.5°C, and an even higher price may be needed to meet the Paris Agreement <2°C target.”
“Reducing carbon-intensive energy consumption is necessary but insufficient to meet the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement,” the researchers write. “Comprehensive mitigation efforts that include fossil fuel emission reductions coupled with NCS hold promise for keeping warming below 2°C.”
Forest in Borderland State Park, Massachusetts. 35 percent of the climate mitigation potential of reforestation in the United States occurs in northeastern forests. Photo via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC0.
• Fargione, J. E., Bassett, S., Boucher, T., Bridgham, S. D., Conant, R. T., Cook-Patton, S. C., … & Gu, H. (2018). Natural climate solutions for the United States. Science Advances, 4(11), eaat1869. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat1869
There are now 82 million migrants, mostly from the Global South, living in Europe and the United States.
Despite what you read in the media, for most us, migration is a last resort. We have been forced—by dispossession, poverty, war, climate change and government corruption—to leave our homes and land in our home countries.
We are tired of being treated as second-class citizens, as threats to the security of wealthy countries. We are tired of corrupt politicians and media that criminalize us.
Let us state clearly, here and now: We support the right of people to voluntarily migrate, and we believe in the value of diverse communities. But the vast majority of us would rather not risk our lives crossing borders, either over dangerous seas or along land routes where we are easy prey for agents of organized crime, often working in collusion with migration agents, police or governments. We would rather avoid discrimination and abuse when we arrive in foreign places, just trying to survive with our families.
However, the harsh reality is this: We can’t return home—and many more of us will have to keep leaving—until the social, environmental, political and economic conditions exist for us to live free of violence and insecurity, free of hunger and malnutrition, and until the employment and education conditions improve so that we can provide for our families and communities.
Who should create these conditions? And how?
The Global North, with its industrial-based, extractive economy, is responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions that have led us to this climate crisis which is threatening the survival of millions of people, and even life on Earth as we know it.
This economic model has put great pressure on the lands we used to depend on to feed ourselves. Our soils and ecosystems have been degraded to a point where they have lost their resilience in the face of severe climate events.
Without food, without hope, without an economy in service of life, we are forced to leave.
We in the Global South are bearing the burden of this crisis, and of the failure of the world to address it.
Yet, though we are the greatest victims of climate change, with the right tools, we are also the world’s greatest hope for reversing this crisis.
Scientific studies prove that the soils and forests of the Global South, managed appropriately, have the greatest potential to sequester excess CO2.
We can return to managing our lands in harmony with nature, so that we can re-stabilize the global climate and make our homes livable again—but we need your cooperation.
Our parents and grandparents and ancestors knew how to feed themselves while at the same time maintaining the natural balance between CO2 in the atmosphere and carbon in the soil and forests.
They knew how to maintain a biologically healthy and diverse environment while at the same time producing abundant, nutritious food.
They did all this without the use of climate-destabilizing chemicals and genetically engineered seeds and mono-cropping.
By tapping into this knowledge, and complementing it with modern scientific findings, we can regenerate our lands—and transform them into the largest collective carbon sink in the world.
Only then can we can return home, and live prosperous, dignified lives as we did in the past.
We hear that there are billions of dollars available to address the global climate crisis.
We call on the people and governments of the Global North to unleash those funds, the majority of which are tied up in corrupt governments and bureaucratic agencies.
We ask that those funds be allowed to flow directly to the people who are ready to regenerate our lands, our farms, and our communities—for the benefit of all of us now, and for future generations.
We are not asking for charity. We are asking for the Global North to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions and lifestyles.
We ask them to cooperate with us, to work together with us.
Global North has no hope of resolving the climate crisis without tackling the vast land degradation in the Global South.
And we, millions of migrants who once depended on agriculture to sustain us, cannot return—or stay—home until our ecosystems are healthy enough to sustain us.
It is time to commit to a massive global cooperative campaign to regenerate Earth, and by doing so, regenerate our collective global social, economic and physical well-being.
Pedro Mariano Gómez Pérez
Patricia Pérez Gómez
Abraham Gómez Paciencia
Diego López Aguilar
On behalf of the Chiapas Indigenous Migrant Coalition (Coalición Indígena de Migrantes de Chiapas)
The event, which will take place at the National Agriculture & Trade Show grounds, will feature a combination of international speakers and local experts on everything from regenerative poultry production and beekeeping to edible landscaping and greenhouse management.
Photo credit: Regeneration International
Regeneration Belize, an official RI Alliance, aims to transform Belize into a leading producer of nutrient-rich agricultural products and a showcase for carbon sequestration through soil regenerative practices.
A relatively new nonprofit, Regeneration Belize grew out of a casual encounter about a year ago (December 2017), at the ACRES USA Annual Eco-Ag Conference in Ohio. It was there that Ina Sanchez, director of research for the Belize Ministry of Agriculture, and Beth Roberson, of The Belize Ag Report, first met RI’s international director, Andre Leu.
Leu, who spoke at the conference along with Ronnie Cummins and Vandana Shiva—both founding members of RI—explained RI’s mission and how the international nonprofit was working to fulfill that mission, on a global scale. Intrigued, Sanchez and Roberson invited Leu to Belize.
Before long, Leu had offered to come to Belize in 2018 and present a three-day farmers’ workshop.
One thing led to another, and in February 2018, RI’s Latin America director, Ercilia Sahores, and RI network member Ricardo Romero traveled to Belize for discussions with about 20 people, including Belizean farmers, consumers, business leaders and NGO members, about how to spread the word in Belize about regenerative agriculture. Also attending was Belizean Senator Osmany Salas, who represents all NGOs in the legislature, and now serves on Regeneration Belize’s Advisory Group.
Sahores, Romero and others met with officials of Belize’s Ministry of Agriculture, including CEO Jose Alpuche, CAO Andrew Harrison, and Belarmino Esquivel, head of Extension Services. During those meetings, the ministry offered the use of the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds in the capital city Belmopan for an agriculture conference later in 2018. The conference planners agreed to have to include information for every type of Belizean farmer—small and large, conventional and organic. They also agreed to no admission fees, so that costs wouldn’t prevent interested parties from attending.
Originally, there was no vision to form a separate NGO for Belize. But it was later decided that a nonprofit would provide a vehicle for raising funds for future work, including the conference. Now as an NGO, Regeneration Belize can host an annual conference, in addition to ongoing workshops and other events useful to the agricultural sector.
For Regeneration Belize’s premier conference, RI has provided six international speakers, who will share proven methods and practices for the tropics. The speakers and their topics are: Andre Leu on topsoils; Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin on regenerative poultry; Dr. Alvaro Zapata of Fundación Cipav on integrated livestock with silvopastoral systems; Elder Adrian Calderon on regenerative beekeeping; and Ronnie Cummins on regenerative food, farming and land use as the next stages of organic and agricultural ecology.
Regeneration Belize selected 11 local experts to round out the two days of presentations, 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at 5 different pavilions. Local experts will present on: medicinal plant gardening; native crops; biofertilizers; watershed management; biochar, turmeric & vanilla production; edible landscaping; greenhouse management and agroforestry. Wednesday sessions will be in English and Kekchi Maya. Thursday’s presentations will include some in English and others in Spanish
Learn more about the conference presentations here and here.
In the absence of U.S. federal leadership on climate, what state, local, community or corporate solutions can be rapidly scaled? As a farmer and a marine biologist, and as mother and daughter, we have had two decades of dinner table conversations about the connections between agriculture and the ocean and about the alarming trends in soil health, ocean health and climate change. These discussions have converged on an underappreciated solution: regenerative farming of both land and sea.
Twelve years ago, Ryan Boyd faced a wreck that changed the way he farms today.
“I had big plans,” said Boyd, who farms with his wife and parents north of Brandon, Man. “We had a nice crop coming, and then the weather went against us and the markets dropped.
“The long and short of it was we had a bad year, and I figured we needed to make some changes if I was going to carve a living out on the farm.”
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For Boyd, that meant shifting some of the practices on their 2,000-acre mixed farm to be more sustainable.
“We’re trying to practise what we would call regenerative agriculture — trying to build a profitable, resilient system that’s maintaining a good level of production while reducing the amount of inputs we’re relying on,” Boyd said while hosting a group of visiting farm journalists last month.