Ground-breaking environmental film offers hope in changing climate

2009-12-02 00:00

A GROUND-BREAKING new environmental film released worldwide last week was also shown in Pietermaritzburg, where it is now available for screening.

Christian environmental NGO A Rocha showed the film, Hope in a Changing Climate, on the same day that it was aired on BBC World Channel last Friday. Its release was timed to precede the start of the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Change conference that happens in the Danish city on December 7 to 18. The film will be shown at the conference.

It is a “good news” story of three projects that have successfully reversed the effects of climate change. Two of the projects are in Africa. According to a media release, “the film tells the uplifting story of how large-scale ecosystem restoration projects … are chan­ging the course of history for millions of people. By fully engaging and embracing local culture and tradition, people are contributing to repairing deeply distressed and dysfunctional ecosystems, such that water is once again absorbed into the soil, plants are able to grow, environmentally destructive practices are curtailed, and people lift themselves out of entrenched poverty.”

Grounded in science, the film documents how the power of natural systems — carbon, water, and nutrient cycling especially — can be restored to capture carbon and support economic and human development within a healthy and robust ecosystem. In northern China, local farmers re-vegetated 35km² of the denuded Loess plateau that had been degraded by grazing and over-farming. The project vividly showed the link between damaged environments and human poverty, and how to combat both.

In Ethiopia, people planted indigenous grasses and trees to restore an eroded area and prevent further soil loss. They also set aside land for areas of natural growth, restricted livestock gra­zing and introduced water harvesting.

From Rwanda comes the story that has particular relevance for South Africa, of the restoration of a wetland that used to provide water for the capital, Kigali, before it was drained. According to Rwandan president Paul Kagame, “Human beings have been the problem, but can also be the solution” to climate change.

A Rocha’s newly-appointed CEO, Steve Weaver, said: “The Earth gives us so much; now we need to give back and help repair damaged ecosystems.”

A Rocha’s director for theology and citizenship in SA, Allen Goddard, said the organisation is willing to screen the film and facilitate discussions around it for local schools or other organisations.

Contact A Rocha: 033 345 8540.

A ROCHA South Africa has appointed a CEO who will be based in Pietermaritzburg.

Former wildlife biologist Steve Weaver said he will be responsible for strategic goal-setting and fund-raising for the organisation. “We are currently active in the Cape, so I will also be looking to expand our activities into other provinces too.”

Weaver and his family will move to the city from their farm in the North West Province some time in 2010. He is an experienced environmentalist and previously managed several national parks in Nevada, U.S.

A Rocha is Portuguese for “the rock”. The organisation works in 18 countries and is committed to five core values: Christianity, conservation, community, cross-culturalism and co-operation.

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