Rehabilitating Degraded Ecosystems (01:18)
Water and fertile soil are becoming scarce as the world population increases by one billion every 12 years. This film will follow camera man and ecologist John D. Liu who has uncovered a solution.
Understanding Desertification (03:45)
In 1995, Liu was assigned to film the Loess Plateau in China as it was transformed from a desert into an oasis. He explains how agriculture stripped the topsoil over time, clogging the Yellow River and creating dust storms.
Learning from China's Example (02:35)
After witnessing the successful Loess Plateau Project, Liu was inspired to promote the rehabilitation of damaged ecosystems worldwide. He shares his knowledge with members of Jordan's royal family concerned about climate change and desertification.
Addressing Jordan's Desertification (02:02)
Thousands of years of livestock herding has stripped the landscape of fertile topsoil. Princess Basma Bint Ali shows that limiting grazing for three years has helped rehabilitate native species.
Ecosystem Recovery Process (01:23)
Liu explains how Jordan's re-greening project works. When grazing is prohibited, the land regenerates perennial grasses, organic matter and microbial biodiversity on its own.
Emulating Ecosystem Function (01:51)
Liu discusses how modern society has lost sight of natural water, air and soil systems; sustainability will rely on allowing the land to recover from human activity.
Human Induced Climate Change (01:04)
Centuries of agriculture have destroyed nearly all Ethiopia's fertile landscape. Gullies provide evidence of topsoil stripped by rain, leading to drought and famine.
Ethiopia Regreening Project (01:21)
In just six years, a desert landscape has been restored to a fertile valley by planting indigenous trees and plants. Professor Negash explains that vegetation cover allows rainfall to infiltrate the soil, resulting in year round stream flows.
Recovering from Famine (03:13)
Chief Giday relocated his village in Ethiopia to allow for ecosystem rehabilitation and ground water replenishment. Within five years, the land has become fertile and the population food secure; Professor Negash hopes to duplicate the project across Africa.
Restoring the Regeze Wetlands (03:24)
Liu shares footage from Rwanda with the Jordanian government. Unsustainable farming practices had impacted both wildlife and human populations; an ecosystem rehabilitation project benefited the economy as well as the environment.
Conservation Lessons from Rwanda (02:31)
Liu calls for ecosystem restoration projects that will benefit future generations. Rwandans have recognized that the Regeze wetlands are more valuable to society as a natural system mitigating climate change than as farm land.
Realizing Landscape Potential (03:17)
In order to maintain ecosystem health and function, rainfall should be retained in the soil over time. Australian expert Geoff Lawton believes the desert around Jordan's Petra can be restored to its original abundance and productivity.
Rehabilitating the Loess Plateau (04:05)
Liu explains the link between poverty and ecosystem health. Chinese authorities had to convince local farmers that they would directly benefit from resting the land; learn techniques used to recover water and vegetation.
Permaculture Systems (04:29)
Lawton has worked with locals to grow vegetables in the Jordanian desert. He engineers diverse, self sufficient ecosystems that provide food; learn natural design principles being adopted worldwide.
Recognizing Natural Capital (03:03)
The desert regreening project on China's Loess Plateau produced fertile soil that captures carbon as well as retaining water. Liu explains that, as the real source of economic wealth, investing in ecosystem health would be a cost effective way to address global issues.
Investing in Ecosystem Services (01:56)
The lives of 20 million Chinese citizens have been positively impacted since rehabilitating the Loess Plateau: agriculture has flourished, incomes have risen and environmental standards have improved. Liu points out the logistical flaws of economic growth without valuing natural capital.
Valuing Ecosystem Function (02:12)
Bolivian farmers use slash and burn techniques for short term income gain—decreasing biodiversity, soil fertility and hydrological function. Liu outlines an idea of creating "industries" to generate surplus biomass in tropical regions that could be used to increase food security in arid regions.
A Simple Sustainable Solution (01:58)
Villagers near Lawton's garden in Jordan burn organic matter, not realizing that recycling it would improve soil fertility. He and Liu discuss how to educate and inspire the global community to rehabilitate ecosystems.
Approaching a Planetary Crisis (01:17)
Liu warns of the global population's current trajectory and predicts mass migrations due to food shortages. Visit his website whatifwechange.org for more information.
Credits: Regreening the Desert: One Man’s Global Mission (00:25)
Credits: Regreening the Desert: One Man’s Global Mission
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