Many ecosystems around the world, from forests to coral reefs, are in decline, victims of pollution, climate change and resource extraction.
But faith-based organizations are increasingly stepping in to help repair these natural spaces. In many cases, religious leaders have become environmental influencers, championing nature-based solutions that experts say are crucial to saving the ecosystems that underpin human society.
“Faith communities – motivated by spiritual values and driven by an ethical responsibility – wield enormous social and political influence when it comes to promoting action to restore ecosystems,” says Iyad Abumoghli, Director of the Faith for Earth Initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“The avenues for faith actors to contribute to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 are explored in our Strategy for the Role of Faith Actors in Restoration of Ecosystems,” he adds.
Ahead of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, which launches later this year, here’s a look at what some faith-based organizations are doing to protect and restore natural spaces.
Saving Ethiopia’s forests
Ethiopia is home to 35,000 forests owned by Orthodox Tewahedo churches, to which more than half of Ethiopians belong. These fertile oases, ranging from 3 to 300 hectares are remnants of the natural forests that once covered Ethiopia.
The Tewahedo Church and local residents are trying to slow the attrition of church-owned forests, which they see as symbols of heaven on Earth. In more worldly terms, they also sequester carbon, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, provide natural medicines and supply locals with building materials. Read more…