Informed Action Will Help Restore Biodiversity | Thomas Crowther & Restor

Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 21, 2022, by Noreen Wise, Founder & CEO of Gallant Gold Media, and author; Image Credit Noreen Wise

The World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader Thomas Crowther gave an impassioned Countdown TED Talkrecently in which he emphasized the risks of restoration done wrong. “Simplicity was the strength” of the global Trillion Trees initiative that was launched in January 2020 at the 50th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, “but it came at the expense of nuance that is so important,” Crowther bemoaned to his TED audience.

“Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action.” 

Countdown Website Home Page

During his Countdown TED Talk, Crowther humbly rephrased the noble mission of planting a trillion trees in the .9 billion hectares of ideal land where the trees will likely thrive as that of “restoring nature’s biodiversity.” It’s estimated, that if we succeed at this, we would drawdown 30% of the excess carbon that’s currently stuck in our atmosphere with no place to go which is causing global warming and climate change.  But Crowther insists that this shaving off of 30% of our legacy carbon is NOT the solution for curbing annual carbon emissions. In short, the planting of these Trillion Trees is NOT a carbon offset for big corporations.

Additionally, Crowther spoke of his regret that anyone would plant monoculture forests that were void of biodiversity and emphasized the difference between the two concepts through two opposing audio tracks: one that highlighted the sound of biodiversity (bird chirps, frog gribits, crickets and insects) versus the lifeless sound of silence of monoculture forests. 

Crowther’s humility — at one point, he referred to his mistakes as “naive” and “stupid” — immediately erased two years of frustration for me, someone who has had to fight very, very hard to include biodiversity in the local “tree planting” projects in my county, Fairfax County, Virginia. Most local and state grants are only for tree planting, no biodiversity allowed (deer might come). In one cornerstone county tree planting project, with a large number of volunteers and a collection of decision makers, my being what seemed like the lone voice emphasizing the benefits and importance of biodiversity (planting native diverse shrubs, perennials and ground cover in natural layers beneath each tree, and mapping out small pocket forests that group a handful of diverse native tree species and all the biodiverse layers beneath them) landed me in a corner where I felt side-lined and shunned. 

There are many other biodiversity project managers like myself who have experienced similar isolation these past two years because of the odd way that many leaders interpreted the Trillion Trees initiative. “Trillion Trees” became an impossible barrier to navigate around. Meanwhile, passionate nature book lovers like myself rely on resources like Douglas W. Tallamy’s Nature’s Best Hope (2020) and Bringing Nature Home (2007), Gabe Brown’s Dirt to Soil, David R. Montgomery’s Dirtthat reinforce the vital and life-saving importance of biodiversityAnd how about the documentaries: Kiss the GroundA Life on Our Planetand Breaking Boundaries. With these books and documentaries reinforcing the importance of biodiversity, seemingly at odds with the “just trees” movement, it became a pitched battle. 

CREDIT: C. Newman-Corkin
CREDIT: Noreen Wise

Passionate people devoted to nature, surround themselves with, and are captivated by, all types of varying species found in nature. A hike on a forest trail (the Appalachian Trail as often as possible for me) is an adventure of endless discoveries. Traveling to experience the many different types of ecosystems and to learn more about biodiversity and wildlife, as well as devour as many books, documentaries, and movies we can find is what most of us do with our free time. Thus, Trillion Trees was an anomaly from the start that left many of us scratching our heads. 

Through this very powerful, necessary and brilliant Countdown TED Talk, Crowther bridged the gaps, mended the fences, and united all of us who are focused on rewilding and nature-based solutions in our climate emergency. He announced the creation of his new nonprofit Restor founded by Crowther Lab, which is a new open data platform network equipped with a machine learning model that is powered by Google Earth Engine and Google Cloud for the purpose of helping “anyone be part of ecological restoration.”

“Biodiversity underpins all life on earth.”

Thomas Crowther

Crowther explained the important benefits of such an innovative global platform:

  • We can all learn from each other by sharing our successes and failures.
  • Protection of the land so that trees can recover.
  • Amendment of soil so vegetation can return.
  • Promotion of the health of grasslands and all types of ecosystems.

Global restoration is a very steep mountain that we have to climb, especially when it’s complicated with extreme weather events which can destroy a landscape within a few hours. The volcanic island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai that exploded on January 15 was completely obliterated. All the rich tropical biodiversity has been lost forever. Extreme tornadoes and hurricanes level biodiversity in a blink. Years of biodiversity restoration can be erased in a few minutes.

Crowther appealed to viewers to join the action. “We need the whole ecology of humanity” to restore our global ecosystems and all its biodiversity.

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Planting Trees for Love | Remembering Covid Victims

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 4, 2020 by Noreen Wise

There’s never been a more important time to plant trees than right now. After massive wildfires scorched millions of acres of forests across the western United States, to the ongoing need to cut atmospheric carbon levels in order to reduce global warming, trees are now more important than ever for sustaining human life on our planet. The only way our children will have mature trees tomorrow, is if we plant seedlings today.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland in January 2020, hundreds of nations across the globe committed to planting a trillion trees by 2050. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2016 ranking, the United States is 33.93 percent forested area. Sadly, prior to Davos, the United States was hovering well below its potential for tree planting despite how much room we have to plant trees. Canada on the other hand, has been a top performer, planting 500 million trees in 2019. During this same year, the US National Forest Foundation planted 5 million trees, nearly double their 2018 total, which is aggressive, but a long way off Canada’s 500 million. There doesn’t appear to be a national data base keeping track of US totals that incorporates tree planting in local communities on private property, so the total number of trees planted in US for any given year is difficult to calculate. But what we do know, is that the US chopped down 36 million trees in 2019, and in 2020, in addition to the millions of leveled trees we ax on an annual basis, we lost 30 billion mature trees in the West Coast wildfires, which is staggering.

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Ethiopia is a 2020 tree planting champion, succeeding at putting 350 million trees in the ground in 12 hours this past July 2020. The US needs to rush to catch up. In most states, trees can only be planted a few months out of the year. There’s a window in both the spring and the fall. Thus, it’s vitally important that we take advantage of each and every opportunity. Homeowners have to be the drivers of our national tree planting efforts if we’re going to succeed.

Planting a tree to remember someone whose life was cut short — whether that be from covid, gun violence, wildfires and other natural disasters, a car accident, cancer, and multiple other tragedies — or is still alive but but going through a very difficult time, is a great way of showing empathy and letting others know a loved one is being thought of regularly. It also motivates us into action. This wonderful way of keeping spirits alive and communities full of hope, helps families and communities heal while at the same time saving the planet. 

This fall, we are specifically focused on planting trees to remember covid victims in our communities:

Please remember me
By planting a tree

There is no Planet B…
So let my life cut short by tragedy
Help to save humanity 

What better way to Rest in Peace

~Trees for Love, Remember Me Tree Campaign, 
by Gallant Gold Media

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Gallant Gold Media is distributing 300 FREE redbud and button bush seedlings on Saturday, October 24, 2020, from 12 noon – 3 PM at GMU, courtesy of Fairfax ReLeaf. Residents in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia can register to pick up a free seedling at GMU so that homeowners and businesses throughout the area can plant trees and bushes this fall to remember all those in our community who’ve been lost to covid. Click here to register. This is first come first serve, so please register ASAP.

If your business has any clients or employees who have loved ones to covid, a redbud seedling is a wonderful gift to let them know you care and empathize with what they’re going through. Redbud’s are a top choice to feature in the front yard landscape, with beautiful pink spring blossoms and very easy to care for while they grow.

Again, limited quantity, with some HOAs ordering large bundles, and first come first serve, so please register ASAP.

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