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Purposely Profitable

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Embedding Sustainability into the DNA of Food Processing and other Businesses.

Competing and winning in today’s competitive marketplace requires a strategy that includes sustainability. Business leaders who embrace it and convey a strong sense of purpose behind their strategy are propelling their organizations into revenue-increasing, cost-reducing outcomes.

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Sustainable Business

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Based on the fundamental concept of continuously improving and balancing social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain, Sustainability is simply, a better way to make a bigger profit.

While organizations have attended to Social, Environmental and Economic performance for decades, it is traditionally economic performance that receives attention.  Sustainability is a revolutionary business model in that it elevates social and environmental performance to the same level of economic performance, unlocking a vault of hidden opportunities.

In other words, instead of simply focusing on a single bottom line of economic performance, with token social and environmental initiatives, the sustainable business model focuses on the triple bottom line to enhance overall performance.

 

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Arguably the greatest movement in the history of human-kind, Sustainability incorporates traditional tools, techniques, thinking and strategies with new and innovative ones such as biomimicry, cradle-to-cradle, value based Philanthropy and more to develop innovative solutions for today’s business challenges.

The result is reduced costs, increased revenue, talent retention, increased shareholder value and enhanced risk mitigation. GEM is here to assist and accelerate your organization on the journey towards becoming an increasingly sustainability organization. Have a look around our site and feel free to contact us to learn more.

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Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world Joel Makower Mon, 08/10/2020 - 02:11

And now for some serious fun.

Last week, I had the opportunity to facilitate an online conversation with Terreform ONE, a Brooklyn, New York-based nonprofit architecture and urban design research group whose humble mission is “to combat the extinction of planetary species through pioneering acts of design.”

It was a refreshing jolt of inspiration and hopefulness during this otherwise dreary moment.

The conversation was hosted by the San Francisco-based Museum of Craft and Design, which recently housed an exhibition titled “Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience,” in which visionary architects and artists were asked to create artistically interpretative solutions and prototypes for survival shelter in a warming world. (My wife, Randy Rosenberg, executive director of the nonprofit Art Works for Change, created the exhibition, which has traveled North America the past few years.)

As part of the exhibition, Art Works for Change commissioned Terreform ONE (for Open Network Ecology) to create Cricket Shelter Farm, an innovative living space that addresses both sustainable food systems and modular compact architecture. Essentially, it is housing that also serves as a cricket farm and, hence, a source of food for its human residents. Each of the hundreds of off-the-shelf plastic containers that form the main structure house a self-contained colony of crickets, which can be turned into high-protein flour. A typical shelter might have 300 such units, each producing a bag of "chirp chips," or the ingredients for making such things as bagels or pasta, every few weeks.

“They live happy lives and they reproduce,” explained Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE’s co-founder, of the tiny, six-legged critters.

In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers.

That may sound fanciful — and, for some, less than appetizing — but insect consumption is hardly a novel concept, according to a 2013 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report. “From ants to beetle larvae — eaten by tribes in Africa and Australia as part of their subsistence diets — to the popular, crispy-fried locusts and beetles enjoyed in Thailand, it is estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least 2 billion people worldwide,” FAO said. Some 80 percent of the world's nations eat insects in some form.

Cricket shelter farm

And because you can produce a gram of cricket protein using a tiny fraction of the land, water and other resources it takes to produce a gram of animal protein, it represents a vast ecological improvement compared to eating meat from cows, chickens, lambs and pigs.

In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers.

Bikes, buildings and butterflies

Cricket Shelter Farm is just one of Terreform ONE’s innovative solutions.

Edible chair

There’s Gen2Seat, ”the first full-scale synthetic biological chair,” created by fusing mycelium — the vegetative part of a fungus, and the foundation for mushrooms — with bacteria to create a  biobased polymer. “It's designed for kindergartens, and she's supposed to go home and tell mommy and daddy that she can eat her chair and that it's okay,” said Joachim, a Harvard- and MIT-educated architect, Fulbright Scholar and TED Fellow, whose daughter is pictured here, modeling the chair.

Another is the Plug-In Ecology: Urban Farm Pod, a habitat “for individuals and urban nuclear families to grow and provide for their daily vegetable needs.”

As Joachim explained: “Instead of a green wall, it's a green ball for your home or your rooftop or your urban balcony or an urban park. You make food on the outside and the inside. It's on wheels, so it can rotate to get the most amount of solar income.” An app tells you when the veggies are ready to pick.

And then there’s the Monarch Sanctuary, a prototype building façade that serves as a habitat for the butterfly of that name, an iconic pollinator species that is considered endangered. It’s a regular building on the inside but the skin of the building doubles as a "vertical butterfly meadow." Terreform ONE teamed with BASF to launch a Monarch Sanctuary installation at the Morris Museum. A planned eight-story building in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood will be the first full-scale version.

In addition to BASF, Terreform has also worked with Intel and GE. “These big partners are very much interested in sharing these concepts so they can move on their side of things to make some of them happen,” said Terreform Executive Director Vivian Kuan, an architect with an interdisciplinary background in art, entrepreneurial marketing and startups.

Quotidian, everyday folks

One of the things I truly appreciate about Terreform’s approach is its attention to the social aspect of these innovative designs.

“I think a lot of the future depends on creating access and implementing these programs and making them rely on the collaboration of many different stakeholders — public-private partnerships, where cities and corporations really jump in and help the funding; and where inventors and entrepreneurs develop the technology and pilot,” Kuan said.

Joachim pointed to a shared-bicycle concept being incubated at Terreform —"a super accessible bike-sharing program along with a biodiversity program,” as he described it.

“This is essentially meant for people who can't even afford something like Citi Bike” — the privately-owned public bicycle sharing system serving New York City. “It gives them access and they can use it to solve what we call the last-mile problem, which is a very difficult thing in cities. You can get buses and subways to a certain area, but then you can't get that bag of groceries from that last stop on the subway to your home.” The low-cost cargo bikes are designed to carry up to 400 pounds.

“We are working deeply to think about mobility justice in every possible form,” Joachim added. “So, none of this is imagined for the 1 percent or the super-elite. It's imagined for the quotidian folks and the everyday people in cities, especially dense, intense urban environments.”

In this topsy-turvy time, even the most fanciful ideas suddenly seem possible as we rethink cities, suburbs, buildings, work, home, shopping and practically everything else. Joachim and Kuan believe the pandemic could cause a massive shift in how people think about living in dense urban environments — or, instead, move to the ‘burbs. Either way, the times will require new designs for buildings, infrastructure and ways of moving about.

Indeed, Joachim said, this may be Terreform’s moment. “We were waiting for a crisis, because we thought that was the only way we're going to get any kind of change happening.”

I invite you to follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz, and listen to GreenBiz 350, my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy.

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Terreform ONE's fanciful vision of 42nd Street in New York city, with riparian corridors teeming with aqueous life, lighting systems with vertical-axis wind turbines and photovoltaic cells, and lots of green walls. All images courtesy of Terreform ONE. 

Author: Joel Makower
Posted: August 10, 2020, 9:11 am
How sustainability vets align their work-life identities Ellen Weinreb Mon, 08/10/2020 - 01:00

As our professional colleagues in the Sustainability Veterans group expressed their sense of overwhelm and concern around the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter, we also reflected on how it relates to our lives, and vice versa.

Sustainability Veterans is a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in corporate sustainability. We are now exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success.

To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to this question:

The sustainability profession includes an identity that extends outside the workplace as much as inside the workplace. How does that play out in your personal life, in ways good and bad, and how has that affected you? 

Their answers covered stories of leadership, perspective and passion. Here’s what they had to say:

Understanding what matters most: Organizations ask employees to leave their personal passions at the door and pick them up on the way home. I was very fortunate to take my love of the environment and lead sustainability. However, I quickly learned that everyone was starting from a different place. Coffee and conversations about what mattered most personally and professionally helped me understand where sustainability could be an enabler and offer an invitation to their own sustainability learning journey.

— Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples.

Sustainability is everyone’s job: Many saw me as the corporate "queen of green," resulting in funny, and occasionally frustrating, encounters. Funny: I’d endure good-natured teasing from coworkers ("How many trees are you killing, Jackie?"), and others would hide their single-use water bottles or apologize for other eco-indiscretions. Frustrating: Some people thought sustainability was someone else’s job. I had to consistently educate others in the company that sustainability is everyone’s job (and show up early to run large print jobs!).

Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program.

A welcome surprise: Becoming a spokesperson for a company was a surprise part of the role of chief responsibility officer, but a welcome surprise. It introduced me to so many passionate, knowledgeable people. I learned so much from them and am eternally grateful for the opportunity.

Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies’ chief responsibility officer.

Walking the talk: I’m glad to have insights that should inform my behavior, but I don’t always succeed. Then I castigate myself and worry my peers are judging me. Even harder is walking the line between providing useful information and being sanctimonious when trying to educate others. I try to remember to be gentle with myself and with others!

Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz.

Power of individual actions: As a sustainability professional, I have observed how individual actions can lead to significant outcomes. In the workplace, I oversaw the activities of many employees who brought their passion, knowledge and energy to help build impactful social and environmental programs. I am committed in my personal life to leveraging my own individual power and encouraging those around me to make a positive difference in the world.

Cecily Joseph is the former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School.

Work on behalf of others: Sustainability professionals should expect to live public lives. As we work across competing positions and underlying social, political and economic interests, our honesty, reliability and personal behaviors become transparent and essential to the work. Our relationships are as important — or perhaps even more important — than our technical skills and knowledge. Our work is on behalf of others rather than ourselves, forging trusting relationships within and outside of our organizations.

Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates and climate change action through Plan C Advisors.

A lifetime commitment: My environmental identity was woken up in the late 1980s. I first took it into my personal life and then the workplace, which led to a complete career change. The passion moved beyond career to become a vocation, then a lifetime commitment. Along the way I got labeled the Queen of Green and Green Goddess (a Nike reference). But as Bill McDonough would say, "Negligence starts tomorrow," so I learned to embrace it.

Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change.

Finding a balance: In my career, sustainability means looking at decisions to be made from different vantage points; how do my actions affect others, the environment and the budget. Over time, I have taken this approach with projects at home as well. Once the right balance is determined and the decision made, it is important to help people (family, friends, co-workers) understand the choice. This triple-bottom-line approach to decision making has proven to work for me.

Paul Murray, president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries. He was previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller.

Communicating to non-experts: Despite spending my entire working time focused on sustainability issues and being passionate about making sustainable decisions on how I lived my personal life, I found it challenging to understand what was communicated (or not) about the sustainability value of the products I was purchasing. I used that frustration as I worked with our business units to make sure that our communications on things like our biobased polymers and fibers could be understood by people who weren’t sustainability experts.

Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for the DuPont Company from 1998 until 2019.

Permeates everything: When I go through my own checklist of what I want in my job, I have caught myself forgetting to list sustainability. It so permeates all of me, that is a given. It is the lens through which I see the world.

Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans

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Author: Ellen Weinreb
Posted: August 10, 2020, 8:00 am
Investors say agroforestry isn’t just climate friendly — it’s profitable Stephanie Hanes Mon, 08/10/2020 - 00:15

This story originally appeared in Mongabay and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

In the latter part of 2016, Ethan Steinberg and two of his friends planned a driving tour across the United States to interview farmers. Their goal was to solve a riddle that had been bothering each of them for some time. Why was it, they wondered, that American agriculture basically ignored trees?

This was no esoteric inquiry. According to a growing body of scientific research, incorporating trees into farmland benefits everything from soil health to crop production to the climate. Steinberg and his friends, Jeremy Kaufman and Harrison Greene, also suspected it might yield something else: money.

"We had noticed there was a lot of discussion and movement of capital into holistic grazing, no till, cover cropping," Steinberg recalls, referencing some land- and climate-friendly agricultural practices that have been garnering environmental and business attention recently. "We thought, what about trees? That’s when a lightbulb went off."

The trio created Propagate Ventures, a company that offers farmers software-based economic analysis, on-the-ground project management and investor financing to help add trees and tree crops to agricultural models. One of Propagate’s key goals, Steinberg explained, was to get capital from interested investors to the farmers who need it — something he saw as a longtime barrier to such tree-based agriculture.

Propagate quickly started attracting attention. Over the past two years, the group, based in New York and Colorado, has expanded into eight states, primarily in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. It is working with 20 farms. In late May, it announced that it had received $1.5 million in seed funding from Boston-based Neglected Climate Opportunities, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust.

Fruit nut alley cropping in New York

Fruit nut alley cropping in New York.

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Propagate Ventures

"My hope is that they can help farmers diversify their production systems and sequester carbon," says Eric Smith, investment officer for the trust. "In a perfect world, we’d have 10 to 20 percent of U.S. land production in agroforestry."

For the past few years, private sector interest in "sustainable" and "climate-friendly" efforts has skyrocketed. Haim Israel, Bank of America’s head of thematic investment, suggested at the World Economic Forum earlier this year that the climate solutions market could double from $1 trillion today to $2 trillion by 2025. Flows to sustainable funds in the U.S. have been increasing dramatically, setting records even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the financial services firm Morningstar.

While agriculture investment is only a small subset of these numbers, there are signs that investments in "regenerative agriculture," practices that improve rather degrade than the earth, are also increasing rapidly. In a 2019 report, the Croatan Institute, a research institute based in Durham, North Carolina, found some $47.5 billion worth of investment assets in the U.S. with regenerative agriculture criteria.

Array

"The capital landscape in the U.S. and globally is really shifting," says David LeZaks, senior fellow at the Croatan Institute. "People are beginning to ask more questions about how their money is working for them as it relates to financial returns, or how it might be working against them in the creation of extractive economies, climate change or labor issues."

Agroforestry, the ancient practice of incorporating trees into farming, is just one subset of regenerative agriculture, which itself is a subset of the much larger ESG, or Environmental, Social and Governance, investment world. But according to Smith and Steinberg, along with a small but growing number of financiers, entrepreneurs and company executives, it is one particularly ripe for investment.

Although relatively rare in the U.S., agroforestry is a widespread agricultural practice across the globe. Project Drawdown, a climate change mitigation think tank that ranks climate solutions, estimates that some 1.6 billion acres of land are in agroforestry systems; other groups put the number even higher. And the estimates for returns on those systems are also significant, according to proponents.

Ernst Götsch, a leader in the regenerative agriculture world, estimates that agroforestry systems can create eight times more profit than conventional agriculture. Harry Assenmacher, founder of the German company Forest Finance, which connects investors to sustainable forestry and agroforestry projects, said in a 2019 interview that he expects between 4 percent and 7 percent return on investments at least; his company already had paid out $7.5 million in gains to investors, with more income expected to be generated later.

This has led to a wide variety of for-profit interest in agroforestry. There are small startups, such as Propagate, and small farmers, such as Martin Anderton and Jono Neiger, who raise chickens alongside new chestnut trees on a swath of land in western Massachusetts. In Mexico, Ronnie Cummins, co-founder and international director of the Organic Consumers Association, is courting investors for funds to support a new agave agroforestry project. Small coffee companies, such as Dean’s Beans, are using the farming method, as are larger farms, such as former U.S. vice president Al Gore’s Caney Fork Farms. Some of the largest chocolate companies in the world are investing in agroforestry.

"We are indeed seeing a growing interest from the private sector," says Dietmar Stoian, lead scientist for value chains, private sector engagement and investments with the research group World Agroforestry (ICRAF). "And for some of them, the idea of agroforestry is quite new."

Part of this, he and others say, is growing awareness about agroforestry’s climate benefits.

Gains for the climate, too

According to Project Drawdown, agroforestry practices are some of the best natural methods to pull carbon out of the air. The group ranked silvopasture, a method that incorporates trees and livestock together, as the ninth most impactful climate change solution in the world, above rooftop solar power, electric vehicles and geothermal energy.

If farmers increased silvopasture acreage from 1.36 billion acres to 1.9 billion acres by 2050, Drawdown estimated carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced over those 30 years by up to 42 gigatons — more than enough to offset all carbon dioxide emitted by humans globally in 2015, according to NOAA — and could return $206 billion to $273 billion on investment.

Part of the reason that agroforestry practices are so climate friendly (systems without livestock, or "normal" agroforestry such as shade grown coffee, for example, are also estimated by Drawdown to return well on investment, while sequestering 4.45 tons of carbon per hectare per year) is because of what they replace.

Silvopasture

Photo of silvopasture system by Sid Brantley. Image via U.S. National Agroforestry Center.

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Sid Brantley/U.S. National Agroforestry Center

Traditional livestock farming, for instance, is carbon intensive. Trees are cut down for pasture, fossil fuels are used as fertilizer for feed, and that feed is transported across borders, and sometimes the world, using even more fossil fuels.

Livestock raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), produce more methane than cows that graze on grass. A silvopasture system, on the other hand, involves planting trees in pastures — or at least not cutting them down. Farmers rotate livestock from place to place, allowing soil to hold onto more carbon.

There are similar benefits to other types of agroforestry practices. Forest farming, for instance, involves growing a variety of crops under a forest canopy — a process that can improve biodiversity and soil quality, and also support the root systems and carbon sequestration potential of farms.

A changing debate

Etelle Higonnet, senior campaign director at campaign group Mighty Earth, says a growing number of chocolate companies have expressed interest in incorporating agroforestry practices — a marked shift from when she first started advocating for that approach.

"When we first started talking to chocolate companies and traders about agroforestry, pretty much everybody thought I was a nutter," she says. "But fast forward three years on and pretty much every major chocolate company and cocoa trader is developing an agroforestry plan."

What that means on the ground, though, can vary widely, she says. Most of the time a company’s sustainability department is pushing for agroforestry investment, not the C-suite. Some companies have committed to sourcing 100 percent of their cacao from agroforestry systems. Others are content with 5 percent of their cacao coming from farms that use agroforestry.

In a perfect world, we’d have 10 to 20 percent of U.S. land production in agroforestry.

What a company considers "agroforestry" also can be squishy, she points out — a situation that makes her and other climate advocates worry about companies using the term to "greenwash," or essentially pretend to be environmentally friendly without making substantive change.

"What is agroforestry?" says Simon Konig, executive director of Climate Focus North America. "There is no clear definition. There’s an academic, philosophical definition, but there’s not a practical definition, nothing that says, ‘It includes this many species.’ Basically, agroforestry is anything you want it to be, and anything you want to write on your brochure."

He says he has seen cases in South America where people have worked to transform degraded cattle ranches into cocoa plantations. They have planted banana trees alongside cocoa, which needs shade when young. But when the cocoa is five years old and requires more sun, the farmers take out the bananas.

"They say, ‘it’s agroforestry,’" Konig says. "So there are misunderstandings — there are different objectives and standards."

He has been working to produce a practical agroforestry guide for cocoa and chocolate companies. One of the guide’s main takeaways, he says, is that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to agroforestry. It depends on climate, objectives, markets and all sorts of other variables.

This is one of the reasons that agroforestry has been slow to gain investor attention, says LeZaks of the Croatan Institute.

"There really aren’t the technical resources — the infrastructure, the products — that work to support an agroforestry sector at the moment," LeZaks says.

While agroforestry is seen as having significant potential for the carbon offset market, its variability makes it a more complicated agricultural investment. Another challenge to agroforestry investment is time.

Tree crops take years to produce nuts, berries or timber. This can be a barrier for farmers, who often do not have extra capital to tie up for years.

It also can turn off investors.

"People are bogged down by business as usual,” says Stoian from World Agroforestry. "They have to report to shareholders. Give regular reports. It’s almost contradictory to the long-term nature of agroforestry."

This is where Steinberg and Propagate Ventures come in. The first part of the company’s work is to fully analyze a farmer’s operation, Steinberg says. It evaluates business goals, uses geographic information system (GIS) components to map out land, and determines the trees most appropriate for the particular agricultural system. With software analytics, Propagate predicts long-term cost-to-revenue and yields, key information for both farmers and possible private investors.

After the analysis phase, Propagate helps implement the agroforestry system. It also works to connect third-party investors with farmers, using a revenue-sharing model in which the investor takes a percentage of the profit from harvested tree crops and timber.

Additionally, Propagate works to arrange commercial contracts with buyers who are interested in adding agroforestry-sourced products to their supply chains.

"Here’s an opportunity to work with farmers to increase profitability by incorporating tree crops into their operations in a way that’s context specific," Steinberg says. "And it also starts addressing the ecological challenge that we face in agriculture and beyond."

This report is part of Mongabay’s ongoing coverage of trends in global agroforestry. View the full series here.

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Author: Stephanie Hanes
Posted: August 10, 2020, 7:15 am
rePurpose saracefalu2 Sun, 08/09/2020 - 14:59

rePurpose Global is a movement of conscious consumers & businesses going Plastic Neutral by financing the removal of ocean-bound plastic worldwide.

We are here to reinvent the wheel of the world’s resource economy - one where our duty to protect the planet is ethically shared among manufacturers, consumers, and recycler

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Author: saracefalu2
Posted: August 9, 2020, 9:59 pm
Planting tiny urban forests can boost biodiversity and fight climate change Alex Thornton Fri, 08/07/2020 - 00:30

How much space do you think you need to grow a forest?

If your answer is bigger than a couple of tennis courts, think again. Miniature forests are springing up on patches of land in urban areas around the world, often planted by local community groups using a method inspired by Japanese temples.

The idea is simple — take brownfield sites, plant them densely with a wide variety of native seedlings and let them grow with minimal intervention. The result, according to the method’s proponents, is complex ecosystems perfectly suited to local conditions that improve biodiversity, grow quickly and absorb more carbon dioxide.

The Miyawaki method

The method is based on the work of Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. He found that protected areas around temples, shrines and cemeteries in Japan contained a huge variety of native vegetation that co-existed to produce resilient and diverse ecosystems. This contrasted with the conifer forests — non-indigenous trees grown for timber — that dominated the landscape.

Miyawaki forests can grow into mature ecosystems in just 20 years — astonishingly fast when compared to the 200 years it can take a forest to regenerate on its own.

His work developed into the Miyawaki method — an approach that prioritizes the natural development of forests using native species. Miyawaki forests can grow into mature ecosystems in just 20 years — astonishingly fast when compared to the 200 years it can take a forest to regenerate on its own. They act as oases for biodiversity, supporting up to 20 times as many species as non-native, managed forests.

Local pollinators such as butterflies and bees, beetles, snails and amphibians are among the animals that thrive with a greater diversity of food and shelter.

Greening urban spaces worldwide

The popularity of Miyawaki forests is growing, with initiatives in India, the Amazon and Europe. Projects such as Urban Forests in Belgium and France, and Tiny Forest in the Netherlands, are bringing together volunteers to transform small patches of wasteland.

Urban forests bring many benefits to communities beyond their impact on biodiversity. Green spaces can help to improve people’s mental health, reduce the harmful effects of air pollution, and even counter the phenomenon of heat islands in cities, where expanses of concrete and asphalt raise temperatures unnaturally high.

Carbon sinks

The potential for helping to combat climate change makes Miyawaki forests a particularly attractive option for many environmentalists. Reforestation is a key part of strategies to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, with initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge, Trillion Trees Vision and the World Economic Forum’s 1t.org project setting ambitious targets.

It’s estimated that new or restored forests could remove up to 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050.

If you have a patch of wasteland in your local community that is sitting idle, a Miyawaki forest could be one way of doing your bit to help the environment.

However, not all forests are equally effective in sequestering carbon. Mature forests of native trees soak up much more carbon dioxide than the monoculture plantations that make up many reforestation projects. As scientists learn more about the role of other factors, such as carbon in the soil, it is increasingly clear that planting the right kind of trees matters as much as the number.

Conservation groups stress that Miyawaki forests should not be seen as an alternative to protecting existing native forests. Small, unconnected wooded areas never can replace the large tracts of forest that are vital to so many species — and that remain under threat from commercial plantations and slash-and-burn farming.

But if you have a patch of wasteland in your local community that is sitting idle, a Miyawaki forest could be one way of doing your bit to help the environment.

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Miyawaki forests can grow into mature ecosystems in just 20 years — astonishingly fast when compared to the 200 years it can take a forest to regenerate on its own.
If you have a patch of wasteland in your local community that is sitting idle, a Miyawaki forest could be one way of doing your bit to help the environment.
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An urban forest in Shirakawa-Go, Japan.

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Author: Alex Thornton
Posted: August 7, 2020, 7:30 am
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