woking with communities does not work

Lessons learned - lecciones aprendidas

01.2018 - August 2020

This page is organised in an intuitive brain-storming way on purpose for the time being:


‣ Choose your fights

‣ Keep your focus

‣ You are responsible for the land you have been trusted with

‣ Nature always knows best

‣ Commitment to long-term future “in rem” (tied to the land, not actual owner) protection is critical

‣ You need to live in your project, but not be part if it: you can’t assess something you are a part of

‣ If the project is for living Nature, it shall grow like a tree - start small

‣ To your questions you should look for your own answers

‣ Establish your own values and choose theories that fit the project

‣ Institutional theories change quickly - who remembers now the New World Economic Order,

    intended to change the world in the 1980s, for example ?

‣ Behaviour can be changed more quickly than attitude

‣ No theory can be final

‣ Nature does needs our thinking, not necessarily our money

‣ “Capsule” or “island” (= not too much interaction with immediate surrounding environment) nature

    protection projects are feasible

‣ Do not build access to your project: contributes to access by visitors (= tourists) - erosion,

   loss of biodiversity, etc.

‣ At present most local problems are reflections of global problems

‣ Ranging values is painful but needed

‣ A periodic effectiveness evaluation is needed, preferably using your own evaluation criteria and


‣ Term “environment” is misleading for this type of projects, it allows protection of human environment,

   not necessarily of Nature

‣ Conservation-oriented legal instruments often are an obstacle to restoration

‣ There is not need to focus on conservation if there is not too much left to conserve in the region

‣ Do not add to the general increase of entropy, nature needs time

‣ Step by step look for a long-time protection

‣ Timing is more important than volume of protected land, the objective should be perpetuity

‣ If you plant live beings you are responsible for them until the end of their lives and beyond yours

‣ Artificial intelligence is damaging to Nature’s intelligence, even if pretends to help it

‣ Effectiveness evaluation might not work: Nature does not have objective and is always effective.

“No method is more effective than a good example”. Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA

As private project:

‣ All private projects are different. It’s a reservoir for hight (bio)diversity of land and nature

    protection techniques

‣ As a private land oner you will have to find your own solutions for almost everything

‣ Main protection tool - private property

‣ Privately owned protected areas fall between cracks with funding and other support arrangements

‣ Difficult to access compensation and carbon offsets markets

‣ No real support for private projects on national level, no tax benefits or logistic support

‣ Imperative to have independence (separate networks of private landowners, seeds, volunteers)

‣ Few national legal tools available for long-term private land and nature protection

‣ We must distinguish between nature and the environment, sometimes they have conflicting demands;

    what is good for the “environment” is not necesseraly good for nature

‣ Some concepts are oxymorons, like “using nature for recreation”

‣ Need to be polymathic and multifunctional

‣ Start small

‣ Ensure that the future of your project is legally protected

‣ The land you protect deserves international BEP/BAT (best environmental practices /

    best available techniques)

‣ Financial aspects are not the most important, it does not take a lot of funds to leave a piece of

    land in peace

‣ Protection by obtaining special conservation status does not necessarily work

‣ Remaining private and confidential protects the project

‣ Definitions or terminology do not matter too much,  Communicating useful results from restoration.pdf

‣ “Sustainable economic development” is an oxymoron, the time when we could reconcile economic

     development with protection of nature has passed

There is nothing more practical than a good theory - E. Kant.


‣ International information exchange has proven more helpful than local cooperation

‣ Principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” does not work for nature, individual

        responsibility seems to be more effective

‣ Relations with scientific world are ambiguous, more science does not help the ecosystem, some

   scientific research put in danger nature protection

‣ Putting aside national differences is an asset, cultural differences are different from national ones

‣ Seminars, conferences, etc are dominated by scientists and consultants, not practitioners landowners

‣ Do not listen to scientists, it's better to see how and what they do

‣ People are separate from nature

‣ Main problematic issue - change of land use

‣ Rebuilding the access road was a mistake

‣ In the era of fast changes (human population, climate, ecosystems) ethics take over science

‣ One time observations are more valuable than peer-reviewed tests, some science just does not work

    in the field

‣ Working with local communities is often challenging for private projects (see below)

‣ Nature’s intelligence has proven more helpful then human, and especially artificial, intelligence

‣ Nature-rescue project are more effective when they are not advertised or publicly exposed, think of

    the international Red Cross

‣ Develop your own principles

‣ Do not stay isolated, share your lessons

‣ How will the generation of millennials manage such a project ? Nature does not need new

   projects but life-time engagement;


‣ Negative local attitudes to land protection and nature restoration

‣ Effectiveness of the protection hierarchy

‣ Reforestation: use of professional planters, not volunteers, is very important for success

‣ Understand and evaluate the extent of the damage first

‣ Where feasible, privilege natural regrowth by protection

‣ Wetlands can recover quickly

‣ It’s too late to eliminate invasive species - can only limit their spread

‣ Quality of seedlings is essential, almost all seedlings of bad quality died

‣ Learn from nature, science has not been essential for the success of restoration

‣ Land use is the key factor for restoration

‣ No need to identify reference ecosystems or sites - climate and other anthropogenically induced

   changes will never permit matching them

‣ The concept of baseline did not work (baselines crisis) - Land Degradation Neutrality is a more

    appropriate concept

‣ Modern reductionist science quite often does not have the answer

‣ You have to find new allies when the obviously natural ones like insects, worms, bacteria, fungo have

    been exterminated

‣ Ecosystems are different worldwide, changes are the same - restoration works with change, and we might need to embrace it.pdf

‣ Use of glyphosate for invasives’ control (rosa mosqueta) is questionable - kills the soil microbiota,

   but not other efficient alternative available

‣ Use of anti-parasites and antibiotics for horses and cattle severely alters the soil essential microbiota,

   in particular large, like worms or mushrooms

‣ Start monitoring the rebound of the ecosystem from the very beginning - the project missed

   some opportunities

‣ Concepts like “biodiversity” are not necessarily important: high biodiversity corresponds to transitional

    states on Earth, the highest biodiversity in the Project is found in the rocky dry prairie, the Project

    is focusing on reforestation.

‣ Start monitoring your project as early as you can - it’s easy to miss opportunities to register ecosystem


‣ Will never participate in large reforestation campaigns - they are not professional and no one knows

    what happens to the trees in future

‣ “Living nature” and “environment” are differing concepts

‣ Planting in wet areas did not work too well.

We regret :

Having allowed one local staff to have some cows in the

    Project for some time. A couple of cows can be as damaging

    as 2000 cows in terms of management.

Building a road for the ecosystem restoration project which,

    as a side effect, facilitated access to a non-protected glacier

    and national park.

Conclusions of a webinar on lessons learned by the Society of Ecological Restoration :