Ecosystem Restoration: Three Pathways to Bring Nature Back

How do we restore the natural world? There is no single answer – in fact, there are a multitude of ways to engage in ‘ecosystem restoration’. Whether big or small, every effort makes a huge difference. Each route, in some capacity, supports thriving ecosystems, soil restoration and supports water cycles. They each work with, not against, the natural world. 

In this blog we explore three avenues as part that you can take to help nature thrive. Whether in your back garden, allotment or across acres of land. 

Syntropic Farming

Sidney Etienne is a regenerative farmer & community activist from Haiti. He specialises in syntropic farming, and teaches us that, “It’s very important to remember that you too are a part of the system. We are not trying to control what nature does. We are learning from nature and we are trying to mimic exactly what it is teaching us.” 

‘Syntropic’ derives from the term ‘Syntropy’, meaning a cooperative relationship between species in which they thrive, eventually resulting in an abundance of resources. Syntropic farming encourages natural succession. It aims to harness cooperative relationships by growing crops as part of a regenerative food production system that mimics nature. It is celebrated as a self-sustaining food production system.

As a result, syntropic farming has the potential to increase wildlife, improve soil health, and contribute to climate change mitigation. All which enable ecosystem restoration. The building blocks of a syntropic system include establishing ground cover, natural succession, and planting strategies that maximise photosynthesis. Syntropic farming is a system that can be replicated anywhere with native plants. This is a principle that can be duplicated in any location, land size, and with any soil type.  The basis of the method requires rows to be planted north to south, maximising sun exposure, with three beds in each section: a tree row, a crop row, and a biomass plant row. 

Indigenous Wisdom 

“What nature is really teaching us in a hua parakore system is about abundance, is about the abundance of nature and the self regenerating capacity and capability of nature to want to keep producing and want to keep giving.” – Dr Jessica Hutchings

On each continent and corner of the world, there are populations of indigenous people who have lived in relationship with the earth through values of kinship and reciprocity. Many of their spiritual belief systems reflect eco-cultural knowledge that can be thousands of years old.

A pathway for effective nature restoration is to learn and listen to those who carry the wisdom of traditional ecological knowledge, rooted in worldviews that heal our relationship to the earth.

A brilliant example of this is Hua Parakore food growing in Aotearoa New Zealand where Maori indigenous wisdom has created a standard of organic certification for growing produce. The approach of Hua Parakore food growing weaves together biodynamics, polycropping and composting to empower seed and soil sovereignty through Māori indigenous values. 

Building Biodiverse Gardens

“Creating healthy soil is critical to creating healthy plants, and in turn, healthy humans. So whether it’s mulching, using a no dig system, or planting in a way that causes minimal soil disturbance, creating a healthy soil food web is essential to creating a healthy garden.” – Mitch McCulloch

The UK has lost almost half of its biodiversity since the 1970s. Gardens play a key role in mitigating further loss. There is potential literally on the doorsteps of many households, as biodiverse gardens can help protect nature and support the wildlife we have left. 

There are a plethora of ways you can boost biodiversity in your back garden including

  • Habitat creation that supports existing native species
    • Consider bug hotels and ponds
    • Introduce native wildflower species and let your grass grow wild
  • Boost the soil food web
    • Composting, mulching and no-dig gardening can be a fantastic asset to soil health
  • Food growing through pesticide-free, natural and regenerative approaches
    • Look into companion planting, permaculture, and utilising heirloom vegetable varieties that are at risk of disappearing. 

Learn The Skills

Find out more about each of these ecosystem restoration pathways by taking courses on each topic via Earthed. Discover  Syntropic Farming with Sidney Etienne, Maori Food and Soil Sovereignty with Dr Jessica Hutchings and Building Biodiverse Gardens with Mitch McCulloch