From 26 March – 4 April 2021, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative hosted ‘Earth Optimism Cambridge’– a ten-day festival which aimed to share stories of hope and inspiration, and solutions to global environmental crises. In a time when we are confronted with a deluge of negative stories about the state of our natural world – extinctions, habitat destruction, human-nature disconnection – we need reasons for optimism more than ever to mobilise change.
As part of the ‘Making Space for Nature‘ series of the Earth Optimism festival, the Endangered Landscapes Programme (managed by the festival’s host, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative), contributed a short film to showcase the ELP vision for nature recovery and the work of three projects funded by the programme – in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, the Danube Delta, and the southwestern coast of Turkey.
The film, entitled ‘Restoring landscapes for life’ to reflect the ELP’s tagline and long-term vision for Europe’s landscapes, demonstrates exactly why we need to think bigger in conservation. Dr David Thomas, Director of the Endangered Landscapes Programme, explains that “even when protected by law, areas set aside for nature are often small and disconnected, making them costly to protect and manage – and making them vulnerable to climate change”. The ELP sets out a forward-looking and ambitious vision to restore nature rather than just conserve what we have left, connect fragmented habitats so that species can move freely, and deliver benefits at the landscape-scale for wildlife, climate and communities.
The ELP was launched in October 2018, thanks to the generous funding of Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and since then has grown from strength to strength as it has continued to build a portfolio of projects which are delivering, planning and facilitating landscape-restoration in Europe. While representing the diversity of Europe’s landscapes, cultures and histories, projects funded by the ELP all share a common feature; they are all working to create a sustainable and hopeful future where both people and nature can thrive.
The programme was delighted to announce earlier this year that it has been awarded a second phase of funding by Arcadia to restore more landscapes in Europe – a positive start to a year which will see the launch of the United Nation (UN)’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and several high-level conventions such as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Georgina Mayhew, ELP Capacity and Network Coordinator, says that her hope is that we make the most of these opportunities for real change: “If the last thirty years have taught us anything, it’s that talking about change and setting commitments means nothing without action on the ground. We now know what that action should look like, and there’s no time to lose”.
Watch the film below, or view it on Earth Optimism website to explore other videos and talks in the series and from the event.
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