How good are we at restoring Nature?

Regeneration is a process of restoring rivers, grasslands, forests, or other ecosystems to its highest potential. Let’s look at some inspiring stories.

Restoring natural carbon sinks

The main carbon sinks are plants, soil, and bodies of water. Plants capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to use in photosynthesis. Some of this carbon is transferred to soil as plants die and decompose. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the carbon dioxide from human activity dissolves into oceans, rivers, and lakes. Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing the oceans to acidify, bleaching coral reefs and potentially causing food chains to collapse.

Save the forests

Forests are large communities where a variety of wildlife, trees, rivers, streams, fish, and rich healthy soil share energy and nutrients. The energy comes from the sun, and plants depend on underground fungi we know as mushrooms, the fruit of large, amorphous organisms.

Creating a forest is something only nature can do, taking hundreds of years. Planting seedlings on a grid with rows and columns of loblolly pine or other fast-growing seedlings is what pine plantations are all about, the opposite of a natural forest. By removing natural forests and replacing them with tree plantations we are degrading the natural system. The former supervisor of the Mark Twain National Forest told me he could see Mark Twain becoming a pine plantation.

When did the U.S. Forest service go from “Caring for the Land and Serving People” to burning the forests selling timber? Robert’s Gab, directly next to the Buffalo Wilderness is at high risk, the U.S. Forest Service wants to burn 16,000 acres, allow timber harvest of near old-growth trees, lessening the diversity of the forests and isolating them into fragmented areas disrupting animal movement. Let’s save the forests!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” John Muir

Regenerative agriculture

In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reminded the Nation the soil holds society together and makes life possible on land, “The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

Today, ecologists and microbiologists understand the soil as a porous carbon sponge, holding water. Farmers have a unique opportunity to heal the planet.

“From the Ground Up – Regenerative Agriculture,” on YouTube, shows healthy food from healthy soil, with farmers talking about the plant roots and the fungi creating a symbiotic relationship known as mycelium. Without fungi, all terrestrial ecosystems would fail.

During a time of despair, when all seems lost, out of the blue come two brilliant scientists with new ways of understanding nature.

The Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, Shape Our Future, a book by brilliant ecologist and microbiologist, Dr. Merlin Sheldrake. Fungi is in us and all around us. A cubic inch of forest topsoil contains 8 miles of fungal cells. Fungi have their own kingdom, with over one million species. Hard to believe most of us hardly think about fungi; how can we care for nature without understanding how it is formed?

For a taste of the book, please see the YouTube interview “Merlin Sheldrake, The Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, Shape Our Future,” for a fascinating conversation.

The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild, is a great book for people who want to learn about nature in a hurry. Dr. Enric Sala wrote an inspiring book about Gaia, our Mother Earth, our common home, available this week. Sala leads oceanic exploration for National Geographic, has exploring some of the most critical habitats in our oceans, finding wonder and destruction.

Don’t mess with Mother Nature. “Tamper with nature, and everyone suffers,” says Sala. Understanding how we can protect nature is a moral imperative to act. We have a beautiful world and we are the Earth Guardians.

Listen to what Sala has to say in his YouTube interview “The Nature of Nature, National Geographic,” where Sala explains protecting nature is our best health insurance that will restore our economy.

Dr. Luis Contreras


  1. Do we know how to restore what we have destroyed?

    Not in general. Forests, for example, are easy to burn or clear-cut. USFS know how to do this “for the health of the forest” pretending East coast and West coast forests are alike.

    Timber sales pay for the District’s budget and for rural schools. One size fits none.

    Some ecosystems are more difficult to restore. There are several phases of restoration, they take time, and must be completed before attempting the next phase.

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