Why Ecosystem Restoration Comes First in the New Business Models

We need abundant resources, resources, resources… but there is more to it

Desiree Driesenaar
Oct 16, 2019 · 7 min read
Image credit: Green Gold, the documentary by John D. Liu about big-scale ecosystem restoration in China.

My writing about the new business models of our century interests a lot of people. However, few people realize that ecosystem restoration will always need to be part of these models.

We need to change our thinking from scarcity to abundance. We need innovation with the technologies nature gives us: physics, biology, and smart chemistry. We need resources to survive on a finite planet.


We need to find our humility again. We need to restore the damage done in the past decades and start being earth stewards. The good news is that there are already working examples of a regenerative economy. And the rewards are worth fighting for: multiple value streams. Not just money, but also other important values like clean air, healthy drinking water, and social justice.

These value streams will serve all species. We will find the positive spiral of nature when we restore ecosystems and learn together how to find local ways how to live within these ecosystems without destroying them.

Degraded Environment

Perhaps people think this is just a fact in desertified areas in the (sub)tropics, but I’m afraid it’s all around us. In Europe and the USA, you might argue that social objectives are met by wealth and GNP-figures, although some rightly say that social justice is not measured here.

But whatever way you look at it, ecological needs are definitely suffering if you read the reports about biodiversity loss and insects dying.

(GRAPHIC) G. Grullón; (DATA) M. Sorg et al., 2013-Entomologischer Verein Krefeld, Germany. The context can be found in this article in Science Magazine.

Good news: we can do better!

Humans have a very bad impact now, yes. But that also means we can do better, much better! And it’s up to us to explore why, how and what.

Abundant resources

Ethics are important in this shift. What kind of humans do we want to be? Is maximizing profit giving our lives purpose? Or do we want to create optimum value for all?

Well, whatever philosophy you believe in, ecosystem restoration is always a great way to start. Whenever we create abundance, we create options on how to develop our regenerative economies further.

Boosting nature

Humans boost, nature does the rest. Ecosystem restoration always involves living soil. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) says that a quarter of our planet’s biodiversity is found in the soil.

To enhance soil biodiversity we need to feed the soil with organic matter and stimulate micro-organisms and fungi. Of course, we also need to repair the water cycles and plant diverse crops in many layers.

Living with abundance

No more chemical fertilizers, because it kills soil life and flushes too much nitrogen into our water cycles. No more big tractors, because it creates compaction of the soil. All these wonderful creatures underground are suffocated to death underneath the huge tractor wheels.

But don’t worry that I mention a lot of ‘no more’s’. There are many things you CAN do. And in its positive spiral, nature provides us with great yields. Better than many yields achieved with ‘normal’ agriculture.

Indigenous cultures and permaculture

We can still learn a lot from their heritage. Then there are permaculture design techniques. Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, the founding fathers of permaculture design, explain it in a clear way in this short video.

“A sustainable system is any system that in its lifetime can produce more energy than it takes to establish and maintain it.” Bill Mollison.

And of course, there are others. Around the time permaculture was developed, in the 1970s, the book ‘The One Straw Revolution’ was written by Masanobu Fukuoka (1913–2008) in Japan.

Biodynamic farming is older, based on the work of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). And agroecology professor Pablo Tittonell has a great vision on how to use modern technology without disturbing the soil.

I know that some of the people involved in these movements think their own way is the best and only way. However, I believe in biodiversity and in diverse solutions depending on local situations and cultures. So please, let’s just start restoring ecosystems in many ways. Nature is our teacher!

Large scale restoration

An area the size of a whole country (the size of my country, The Netherlands) has been restored. Think about it. Such a large scale in less than 15 years! Part of the area looked like this in 1995.

Picture credit: Green Gold, a documentary by John D. Liu.

And the same area looked like this in 2009.

Picture credit: Green Gold, a documentary by John D. Liu.

A sacred mountain in India

One of the key success factors has been the motivation of the local volunteers. It was common to see Arunachala ablaze because farmers were protecting their grass using fire and goats against shrubs. Arunachala was a fire mountain. But it changed.

Please read the story in the link and you will be amazed. Maybe this story can be an inspiration for the people in Brazil and the other Amazon countries?

“After less than two years, when a fire broke out amongst our plantings, local villagers spontaneously extinguished the fire. They knew the plants would be more value to them than rocks and grass.” John Button.

Food forests in Europe

I see a heartwarming trend of food forests on the rise and I applaud it. In my country food forests are being planted as buffer zones between nature and farming.

This is a good inspirational step, a forebode to the time when nature-inclusive farming will be mainstream. When people realize that nature-inclusive farming can feed the world and has better business models than current farming practices.

Food forests are also being planted in industrial areas. They can teach the employees of the residing companies about innovation and health provided by nature. They can promote the benefits of all ecosystems’ services (WWF- Living Planet Report 2016).

Additionally, food forests are being planted close to communities in order to teach people natural gardening techniques and provide social cohesion. And finally, food forests are being planted near schools where children will be inspired to build a good future for all species of our planet.

“Food forests are hot and happening and I love it!”

Please, get your hands into the soil, too. It’s so much fun to learn and experiment on how to restore ecosystems. I guarantee it will make you feel better and give you loads of new, caring friends. It certainly changed my life for the better…


Further reading

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the education system

Desiree Driesenaar

Written by

Regeneration. Nature-based innovation. Awareness. Systemic thinking. Aligning economy, ecology and human spirit. https://www.linkedin.com/in/desireedriesenaar

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the education system

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