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  • Writer's pictureDon Richardson

A Biocultural Approach to Ecological Restoration: UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration Seeks Input

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

by Don Richardson, IBA Braiding

The author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, called for a "Biocultural Approach to Ecological Restoration" at the World Conference on Ecological Restoration. The 9th annual conference kicked off a Global Consultation on Proposed principles for #EcosystemRestoration by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Dr Robin Wall Kimmerer was perhaps the first to describe ecological restoration as an ‘antidote to despair’.

“Repair of ecosystem structure and function alone is insufficient - restoration of a respectful, reciprocal relationship to the natural world is also essential for long term success,” said Dr. Kimmerer, addressing the largest virtual gathering of restoration scientists, practitioners, policy-makers and students at #SER2021, the biennial World Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER).

”In many cases it is not only the land that has been broken, it’s our relationship to land that has been broken. So our work in restoration needs to heal [that] relationship, as well as the land.” Dr. Kimmerer described the necessity of a biocultural approach to ecosystem restoration as, “a framework for a broader, decolonizing vision of restoration, which is grounded of the Indigenous worldview, [through which] repair of ecosystem services contributes to cultural revitalization, and renewal of culture promotes restoration of ecological integrity”.

Partners in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration are seeking feedback on proposed principles for the full set of restorative activities under the Decade’s definition of ecosystem restoration: “Ecosystem restoration is the process of halting and reversing degradation, resulting in improved ecosystem services and recovered biodiversity. Ecosystem restoration encompasses a wide continuum of practices, depending on local conditions and societal choice.

The global consultation will take place between June 15 and July 19, 2021. The final principles and descriptions will be released in early September, 2021 in time for presentation at the IUCN World Conservation Congress and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties meeting. The survey is on the proposed principles available here:

You can review the full text of all nine proposed principles prior to responding to the survey. The text is available here:

Luiz Moraes, Co-Chair of SER2021, said: “Ecological restoration delivers clean water, supports healthy soils for food production, protects biodiversity, and helps keep our planet cool. It enhances the safety and security of our planet and all its species. Most importantly, it provides hope. Though it may not be easy, it is essential for our future and for our children’s future.”

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