10 Things you can Do to Save the Amazon

10 Things you can Do to Save the Amazon

This is a view of fires burning in the Brazilian state of Para on August 20, 2019. Image courtesy of Planet Labs Inc. and the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science.

1. Fund Forest Protection

Let’s start with the most direct route. One of the most effective organisations to contribute to is the Rainforest Trust. Their project in the Peruvian Amazon supports the local indigenous communities to getting recognised as having land rights and is seeking to give the title for more than 6 million acres to 220 communities. An acre of rainforest can be protected for a donation of $0.76 and 100% of your project gift directly funds vital conservation action. 

Making sure that forest protection happens where it is currently possible, is the lowest hanging fruit. Yet, often, this isn’t happening to scale that it could be. Donate your money now and make a direct difference. 

2.  Support Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous peoples of Amazonia have lived in a symbiotic way with the rainforest for Millenia. They are the keepers of deep knowledge about the eco-systems they live within and are indispensable to its effective protection. Protecting the rights of indigenous people and their land claims in the Amazon can be one of the most effective ways of halting deforestation.

Amazon Watch is a pioneer in this area and has been working to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin for the last twenty years. It partners with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability, and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems.

The Guardians of the Forest, a volunteer monitoring force of the Guajajara tribe, are one of the last lines of defense for the rainforest in the heart of an industrialized Amazon. The Guardians, led by international activist Sônia Guajajara, struggle to leverage what few resources they have to fight for the life of the planet. You can watch the film about their work here.

Traditional fire management practices may also hold many answers. Controlled fires, which were widely banned by colonialist authorities, had long been used by indigenous peoples to maintain their land and forests and to protect their peoples from large-scale wildfires. Watch the film from If Not Us, Then Who here.

3. Fund this Independent Fire Service in the Amazon

The Brigada de Alter, or Forest Fire Brigade, are an independent group of firefighters operating in the Alter do Chão region of Pará state in the East Amazon. They are dedicated to fighting fires in the forest, which they call ‘our only and one boss’ and are in the process of training another 30 people to become fire fighters. The website is in Portuguese, but contributions can be made online by Paypal to contato.marupiara@gmail.com

4. Stop Eating Beef

No product creates more deforestation than Beef. It has been responsible for 75% of the deforestation in South America between 1990 and 2005. Brasil is now the world’s largest exporter of beef and its cattle herd has grown from 158 million heads in 1996, to 219 million in 2016.  Cattle ranches require big open spaces and the fires used to clear land often get out of control and destroy areas much bigger than were intended. Indeed, 80% of the deforestation happening in the Amazon is illegal, with 80% of that land used for cattle ranches.

5. Boycott Burger King and Support the Soy Moratorium

The problem with beef is not just in the deforestation that is required for grazing, but also the land use and deforestation that is motivated by soybean production for livestock. 

80% of the world’s soybean crop goes to feed cattle, so making sure that the supply chain that is used for any beef that you are eating, even if it is not from Brazil, is essential. Some organisations are doing better than others at this, but none are doing worse than Burger King. 

The organisation Mighty Earth have used to identify Burger King’s biggest soy suppliers as the culprits: Cargill, the largest privately owned company in the United States, and Bunge, one of the biggest players in South America. Collectively, they are responsible for over a million acres of deforestation between them. 

If soybean agriculture was redirected away from deforestation towards degraded land in South America (of which there is 500 million acres), it could completely change this dynamic. The Soy Moratorium, a voluntary zero-deforestation agreement enacted in 2006 and renewed indefinitely last year, brought clearcutting in the Amazon to historically low levels, until last year. But while deforestation in the Amazon plunged, agricultural production expanded.

6. Support Rainforest Alliance and Rainforest Action Network

Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests. They are directing 100% of the funds donated in August via their Instagram to frontline groups in the Brazilian Amazon, including the Brazil chapter of their Indigenous federation partner COICA and their longtime sustainable agriculture partner IMAFLORA. Rainforest Action Network are directly supporting communities effected by the Amazon Fires and have a campaign to contribute to here.

7. Join the Global Climate Strike

To really address the issues behind deforestation and climate change, we need comprehensive action from all the World’s governments and peoples to effectively organise for the reality of a world with a disrupted climate. This is what Global Climate Strike, led by young people from around the world, is calling for. On September 20th, millions of people will walk out of their workplaces and homes to support the youth movement, who have been organising school strikes every Friday.

It’s an act that can really help to show the scale of the movement and to underline the magnitude of the urgency that is called for to deal with global situation.

8. Join an Extinction Rebellion action

If you want to act even more directly to protest the slowness of the global response to the threat of climate change, Extinction Rebellion (XR) have been organising highly effective actions of non-violent civil disobedience. XR began in London on October 31st 2018 and then organised an action in which six thousand people participated in shutting down five bridges over the River Thames in London. The movement has now spread internationally, co-ordinating itself around a statement of 10 shared principles and values.

XR are focused on actions that, in their own words are ‘more likely to take risks (e.g. arrest / jail time)’ than traditional campaigns, but if you are ok with a risk of being arrested and passionate about these forms of civil action, XR could be for you.

9. Join the Regenerative Culture Movement

To combat deforestation and extractive industrial agriculture, we don’t just need better legislation and a political will to do more. A fundamental shift in worldview is required that moves beyond ‘sustainability’ and into regenerating the planet we live on. This may seem obvious, but regenerative design, meaning the design and building of whole systems that support life and respect and rebuild the environment that sustains them, are in their infancy. 

One great starting place to learn about this is Daniel Wahl’s book ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’. The book covers the finance system, agriculture, design, ecology, economy, sustainability, organizations and society at large, not just regenerative agriculture.

The Bloom Network is an international network of people who are committed to building new models of regenerative culture. From preventing food waste, to creating new forms of collaboration that incentivize and reward regenerative actions, Bloom is connecting initiatives around the world. You can join here. 

10. Sign the Petition

It’s not much. You can barely call it an action at all, but here’s at least a click that you can use to sign the Avaaz petition. Maybe if you’ve read this far, do it anyway, but please don’t stop there!

What is Regenerative Culture?

What is Regenerative Culture?

Artwork: ‘The Fifth Sacred Thing’ by Jessica Perlstein

Bloom Network’s Mark Heley talks to Maya Zuckerman

There are a spectrum of definitions for what the term ‘regenerative culture’ can mean, so it’s always interesting to give a person working in this emerging field the room to offer their own definition.

At one end of the scale, ‘regenerative’ means for many people, the next step beyond mere ‘sustainability’, in ecological practices and design. It means embracing the potential of healing and renewing the land in ways that the goal of a ‘zero- sum’ consumer culture can never do.

Maya Zuckerman is many things. For example, she’s a successful COO for start-ups in the Bay Area, a transmedia producer, and also the MC for Pollination 2019, but at heart she is fundamentally a story teller. This is where she begins her definition of the meaning of the term ‘regenerative culture.’

What can go right?’

‘I think the mindset of regenerative culture is ‘What can go right?’. We’re so constantly fed with the mindset and reality of ‘What can go wrong?’ this is what happens when we don’t do this. 

The idea of regenerative culture promises a hope. That if we get our act together and work really hard in a way that aligns with nature and whole systems. If we actually step away from the ego-mind and the ego-space and get into a collaborative, diverse, inclusive system of cultures, then we can actually turn around what’s happening. And create the possibility of a world that works for everyone.’

Maya Zuckerman, transmedia producer and MC for Pollination2019

Regeneration is an act of rebellion

‘Right now, we’re talking about this is the last coolest summer we’re ever going to experience in the next hundred years. What if we can actually change it into the next twenty-five years? So, twenty-five bad years and then all of a sudden…. boom! we’re landing back because of everything we did together. There is hope that is very rooted in action and reality. And then being regenerative is also an act of rebellion, of saying ‘”I will work with nature!”.’

Sacred Reciprocity

‘Buckminster Fuller talked about a very simple formula of how you operate this planet: ‘Don’t pollute. Don’t take too much.’ We need to live in harmony as much as possible. Harmony doesn’t mean that there’s no death, or there’s no killing. It means there’s still an underlying harmony, despite those things. There’s a harmonious sacred reciprocity of giving and taking that is needed for the whole system to flourish. We need to respect that. As soon as you actually remove that sacred reciprocity, everything starts failing and we’re seeing it in our obsession with extractiveness.’

Degeneration is the opposite of regeneration

‘I think it’s degeneration that is the opposite of regeneration and that there is rapid degeneration with systems right now, that we are seeing… especially in America. What happens to people when the system doesn’t work for everyone? They start being degenerative. Some of them start killing. The dominant narrative is a false narrative, that’s actually not a thrivable narrative. And it’s very centered in the ego itself.’

A new Origin Story of the Future

A lot of Maya Zuckerman’s work in regenerative culture is at the source code level, which turns out not to just be in a new and improved version of sustainability, but a whole new way of thinking about ourselves as a species. What it is going to take is a whole new origin story. A whole new way of seeing.

‘I think that regenerative culture, or the ‘regeneration generation’, is an opportunity for instilling a new origin story of the future. And that’s kind of like not only just jumping from sustainability to regeneration …because it’s actually not that easy. There are almost exponential changes that need to happen. But it’s really this making a collective decision of what our future could be. Not a specific, ‘this is exactly what this is’. Instead we need a story where we get to create our future and be architects of the future, not its victims.’

Pollination2019: Regenerative Futures Summit

The theme of crafting a new narrative and a new story, brings us to events like Pollination: Regenerative Futures Summit, which is happening at Impact Hub San Francisco from August 17-18. This is the first annual event of the Bloom Network: a global network of hubs and nodes focused on regenerative culture. Maya Zuckerman will be the MC and host for the weekend, which will be a fully participatory event, or a kind of ‘eco-hackathon’.

Pollination features leaders in many different aspects of regenerative culture from community health, to new forms of governance based on blockchain technology. The purpose, however, is not just to receive knowledge from experts, but also to get hands-on with the crucial work required to craft regenerative solutions that can be scaled. This is an event for anyone who is interested in learning to become a participant and an emerging leader in regenerative practices and culture. Unprecedented levels of collaboration and co-operation are going to be required. The processes and tools required to accomplish this will also be a major focus at the event, whose theme this year is ‘Collective Wisdom’.

So Maya, what do you think is unique about the intention and plan behind Pollination2019? 

‘I think its uniqueness is that the people coming are a very intersectional group. It’s a very global group. And I think there’s something about how emergent it is. As a community it’s taken us a long time to get to this point. So I think the fact that it’s here this year, in a seminal year, it is really an important moment. I think it’s got wonderful potential.’

And what outcomes do you hope to see coming out of this event?

‘I’d like to see that this is catalyzing continuous working groups for learnings that we can share. I mean, if this could spiral in some way, you know, something that keeps giving to the community, that supports the community with really great how-to’s. I want to see some boots on the ground. I want to see some actual metrics, to show we did succeed.

We all love these gatherings, because we get to see our community, but I don’t want to waste anybody’s time. I want people to actually get out of there and either activate their own community, or join the bigger Bloom Network community to actually facilitate and implement what we’ve started doing there. And that would be just amazing!’

Read about the whole Program for Pollination: Regenerative Futures Summit here.