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How to restore our ecosystems from the ground up

“We can restore all the degraded lands on Earth – and that needs to be the central intention of human civilisation. If it’s not, then we don’t know what we’re doing.”

The words of John D. Liu, founder of the Ecosystem Restoration Camps, which are “repairing the Earth” by “bringing everyday people together, to restore degraded ecosystems from the ground up”.


When he looks at what consumes so many people, John sees a web of delusions, with humans trapped in thoughts of owning each other, bits of the planet, or in believing that nuclear weapons are a good idea.

Speaking to me on Inside Ideas John says this “can’t be the basis of human civilisation” and that we must instead make “the restoration of the Earth’s systems the great work of our time”.

Because experience tells him that “when we do restoration it works much faster than anyone would imagine and it works well”, something he learned when the World Bank asked him to document the spectacular rehabilitation of the Loess Plateau, which he did with the Green Gold documentary that changed his life.

How do we go from me to we?

“How do we put at the centre of human civilisation a collective intelligence, a collective intention, and how do we define that collective intention?,” he asks. “I would say that means restoring all the degraded systems on Earth because if we did that, we would address toxicity, food insecurity, soil infertility, air quality, water quality, we would reduce dramatic weather events. And we would be in harmony with one another and the Earth.”

Scaling new levels of consciousness, he believes, is the only way to create this harmony.

“We must have a tsunami of consciousness which transforms the central intention of human civilisation, from shopping to restoring ecological function on a planetary scale. And we must make sure that all human beings are treated justly and equally. And that all other species have their place and are treated equally, so that it’s not about the accumulation of material things or the domination of other people, it’s about survival.”

And if we ditch the shopping and the senseless priorities, restore ecosystems instead, then John believes “everything is possible”.

Something his documentary on the Sekem initiative in the Egyptian desert taught him. In 1977 Dr Ibrahim Abouleish’s dream of producing agricultural and societal abundance from desert land was dismissed as a pipe dream but it is now a flourishing reality.

Catch up with my podcast with John for more on how we can all support the shift to abundance.

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Written By

Marc is Editor-at-Large for Innovators Magazine and host of INSIDE IDEAS, his OnePoint5Media video podcast show. Marc is a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network, Resilient Futurist, and award-winning Global Food Reformist.


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