4 March 2021 | 8 minutes.

Ecosystem Restoration Camps: The global grassroots movement

Three volunteers exude joy after a day of planting hundreds of indigenous trees to restore a degraded landscape as part of Greenpop's Eden Festival of Action.

Photo: Juliette Bisset


Ashleigh Brown
Camp Coordinator and Co-founder of Ecosystem Restoration Camps

Ashleigh Brown, Camp Coordinator and Co-founder of Ecosystem Restoration Camps

Ashleigh Brown, Camp Coordinator and Co-founder of Ecosystem Restoration Camps, spoke to REVOLVE about the origins of what is today an international community working with the common mission to restore degraded landscapes and to educate as many people as possible about the value of ecosystem restoration.

Take us back to the beginning of Ecosystem Restoration Camps – how did it all start?

The concept was created by John D. Liu, who was working as a filmmaker in China documenting major political events. As he spent more time thinking about the arch of human history and evolution, he realized political events are just a small blip in human history, and what really matters is what happens geologically and ecologically.

He had this realization while working as a cameraman for film about a large eco-restoration project at the Loess Plateau to revive a large area of land highly degraded by human activities such as cutting down trees and the uncontrolled movement of grazing animals. The loss of vegetation from the land had reduced its ability to hold water, creating huge floods that washed silt into the Yellow River.

The Chinese government, in partnership with the World Bank, created a program where people were paid to remove their animals and plant trees instead, rebuilding the soil structure.

The SEKEM-Wahat camp, located in the Bahariya oasis of the Egyptian Western-Desert, focuses on reclaiming desert soil and creating functional land. Photo: ERC.

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