Appalachian Regional Restoration Initiative

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Temps de lecture : 2 minutes  

As a newly appointed UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, I am learning the ropes on the how’s and why’s our planet is under threat. The science behind the issues can be daunting but seems irrefutable as I see the change, in just my lifetime, to my own backyard, the cities I grew up in and the far flung places I visit.

In my work as an actor and humanitarian, I have seen the devastating impact of dwindling and scarce resources from Rwanda to Darfur. This year, off our shores in the US, we have experienced the most devastating oil spill in human history. I guess these experiences constitute why it is not a huge leap for me to envision the very real threats we face if we continue to diminish the planet’s resources faster than they can be replenished. The choice to conserve and live more mindfully is not some esoteric concept, but a selfish decision to not bite the proverbial hand that feeds us.

Though the impact of humankind on our environment is apparent everywhere, the one that stands out most for me, both in terms of the rate of its destruction and because of its myriad resources, is the forest. But the good news is that we have more information than ever on the wide-ranging value of forests, and beyond conservation, we are starting to restore and transform destroyed habitats back into viable ecosystems.

I was moved by one such story of revitalization in an area that is endowed with a wealth of natural resources but has long struggled with poverty. The Appalachian region of the eastern United States is home to some 23 million people, but the exploitation of its coal reserves has left a scarred and damaged landscape in an area whose forests support some of the highest biological diversity in the world’s temperate regions.

The Appalachian Regional Restoration Initiative (ARRI) was created in an effort to reforest active and abandoned mined lands. Since 2007, over 40 million trees have been planted on 87,000 acres across the Appalachian coal states by volunteers. The results generated by the initiative have resulted in a proposal to plant 125 million trees over the next five years, restoring forests on approximately 175,000 acres, creating more than 2,000 green jobs and sequestering 3-5 times more carbon than the current grasslands. In a region facing high unemployment and environmental degradation, ways of increasing local wealth and job opportunities while sustaining biodiversity and aiding the recovery of damaged ecosystems is invaluable.

UNEP hopes that this project will help achieve their Billion Tree Campaign’s goal to plant a tree for every one of the 320 million US citizens and to serve as a model for other high impact grassroots initiatives around the world. I, in turn, hope to help raise awareness both for the issues and for the successful projects that may inspire people to get better informed and to make their own contributions.

La politique de l’extinction

par Don Cheadle

Extrait du livre « Des forêts et des hommes » rédigé par la rédaction de GoodPlanet à l’occasion de l’année internationale des forêts et disponible aux éditions de la Martinière.

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