Restoring Dutch ‘green deserts’

The United Nations

The Western Peat Meadows of the Netherlands look like classic Dutch countryside (cows, windmills and green fields), but the views mask a significant loss of biodiversity, caused by intensive farming methods. As the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration begins, a local organisation is planning to restore 100 million of hectares of land, across the world.

Farmer Monique van der Laan from farm De Beekhoeve in Kamerik, the Netherlands uses her shovel in the peat meadows, while surrounded by visitors

The not-for-profit organisation, Commonland, an official partner of the UN Decade, which began in June, plans to transform tracts of land, equivalent to the size of Spain, into thriving ecosystems by 2040. The projects range from the Western Peat Meadows, to the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

The former is affected by climate change, and is seeing rising sea waters and the gradual sinking of the soil; many farmers are struggling to make ends meet. As part of the Commonland project, they are changing their practices, improving the soil and sowing herb-rich grassland. It is hoped that, by 2050, farmers will earn part of their income from storing carbon and fresh water, as well as through tourism.

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