What a month we’ve had since the last newsletter! So much has happened, for all of us, globally, environmentally, and personally.
I celebrated my 21st birthday in late July, and my partner’s gift to me was a moonlight kayaking trip - something I have wanted to do for several years. This past Saturday, we woke up at 3am and drove to the launch, pushing our
kayaks into the water under a luminous waning crescent moon. We paddled out to the middle of the lake and sat there, as if in a front-row seat, taking in the hot pink sun appearing on the horizon as the Earth rotated into the morning light.
As the sun became more and more visible, we paddled just a little bit farther into the lake to catch a bigger glimpse. Every now and then one of us would turn to the other with a big, incredulous smile and let out an exuberant laugh over this natural wonder too beautiful for words. Slowly, as the sky gave way to a blue color painted with golden rays of light, we made company with ducks, swans, osprey, and fish that made countless ripples as they swam to the water surface.
After a couple hours, we paddled back to shore. As we made our way to a local waffle place for breakfast, I kept thinking what a wonderful way this was to begin the morning, and my 21st year: spending time with wildlife, Mother Earth, and my love. I send this letter to you with the wish that you may also have a beautiful experience just like this - filled with awe, love, and appreciation - in the coming month.
Wishing you a restorative end to the summer season,
Community Engagement Coordinator
In This Issue:
- Suggest a Featured Creature!
Eco-Restoration Stories Currently Inspiring us
- Throwback from the Bio4Climate Blog
- Voices of Water
- Staff Spotlight: Maya Dutta
- Compendium Notes
Suggest a Featured Creature
Photo by Andibreit For Pixabay
Each week at Bio4Climate, we write about a Featured Creature for our email list. We share information on a creature whose evolutionary traits, special role within its ecosystem, or fun facts have captured our attention. We’d love to hear from you about species you’d like to see featured. We welcome any and all suggestions of plant, animal, and fungal species to spotlight in future editions of Featured Creature!
Staff Spotlight: Maya Dutta
Here at Bio4Climate, our team is an intergenerational group of people with diverse backgrounds, stories, and perspectives. Each person brings a unique approach to the table, and we like to honor and highlight the value that their individuality brings to our work. In this month’s staff spotlight, I am delighted to introduce you to our Assistant Director of Regenerative Projects, Maya Dutta!
Many of you may recognize Maya from her emails, Featured Creatures, and Miyawaki Forest organizing. She is a shining star within our organization, and she works tirelessly every day to bring about a healthier, more restored Earth for all its inhabitants.
Outside of her work at Bio4Climate, Maya has a variety of other passions, from reading science fiction to delving into art (lately she’s been enjoying making clay earrings). Still, regenerative work finds its way into most aspects of her life. “I feel like a lot of my life, my philosophy, my mindset, and my spirituality are tied together. If there is a current in my life, I would describe it as being around regeneration and recovery,” she told me when we met on Zoom a few weeks back.
When I asked Maya where her love for the environment began, she said she has always loved flowers, trees, and the beauty of nature, but didn’t grow up with a huge connection to nature. “I was lucky to have parks nearby, but I grew up in the heart of the city and didn’t know about the complex interaction of ecology.” So, when she came to environmental work, it was out of a sense of doom, dread, and urgency around climate change, and a desire to do something about it.
At one point early in her journey into environmental work, Maya was visiting a botanical garden. When she put her hands on the bark of a tree, she felt a connection into the workings of the tree, all the way down to the roots. Through this experience, she felt a calling to be in relationship with all of the species that couldn’t talk, but still mattered greatly. But she didn’t feel emotionally prepared to answer this call–not quite yet. “I was scared, and basically wanted to avoid what I saw as a lifetime of inevitable heartbreak. I didn’t feel strong enough to handle it.” A couple years later, she attended an Earth Day screening of a film about intense ecological degradation and human destruction. By the end of the film, she was in tears. “This is all very real, this is the violation that we’re doing to the world. It’s not okay, and I need to do something about it,” she thought.
She began searching for work she felt she could contribute to, and stumbled upon permaculture, restoration, and regeneration work. Through that research, she listened to a lot of the Green Dreamer podcast, where she heard an interview with our Executive Director, Adam Sacks, sharing the work of Bio4Climate. She reached out, began working as a volunteer, and quickly became an integral part of our organization!
Maya currently works on expanding and supporting our regenerative projects at Bio4Climate. She also facilitates the outreach, fundraising, website updates, and partnerships that help our organization run. A major focus of her work is building out our Miyawaki Forest program, including taking care of the Danehy Park forest that was planted in September 2021. She works on planning future forests (which includes at least one planting this fall in the Cambridge neighborhood of The Port), consulting with folks implementing projects in their communities, and sharing information, resources, and education with municipalities, other organizations, and the public to spread these methods and the broader movement for eco-restoration. In recent months Maya also worked with colleagues on a regenerative agriculture design to restore degraded lands by growing energy grasses; this effort aims to address some of the intersecting challenges in energy, agriculture, and biodiversity loss.
Always looking for opportunities for growth, Maya can be found diving into new classes, workshops, webinars, and readings. She works to share the stories and lessons of regenerative projects that have helped support the health, resilience, equity, and abundance of communities around the world.
While current events often make it more challenging to be positive, Maya maintains a strong sense of hope for the climate. “My reason for hoping comes a lot out of the win-win scenarios that are possible when engaging in regeneration in its fullest meaning. We face so many daunting and intersecting challenges, but we can come together and achieve a lot by looking at the system and by tackling it together,” she said.
Whenever she visits the Miyawaki forest in Cambridge to recharge and to care for it during the current drought, Maya is continually struck by how moving and beautiful everything is. “After the planting, the trees, plants, and systems did the work, and now they are thriving,” she said. “It’s a reminder that, when you do your part, other beings will do their part, too.”
Want to learn more about the staff at Bio4Climate? Click here!
EcoRestoration Stories Currently Inspiring Us
We believe it is important to amplify the enormous positive work people are doing in the world of eco restoration, and to pay tribute to those people already actively regenerating the lands around them.
Here at Bio4Climate, we’ve been hearing the buzzword “localization” as we anticipate the need to adapt to rising energy costs, when global transportation becomes increasingly expensive and thus unsustainable. We are also learning more about locally sourced resources that strengthen communities, bolster local economies, and restore lands. To see what this can look like in a suburban neighborhood, check out this neat video about a woman who grows 80% of her produce at home!
As issues tied to heat and drought permeate nearly every inch of land on the globe, more and more people are thinking about water. Now is a good time to return to a blog post written back in 2017 by our dear friend and colleague, the late Jan Lambert, about the New Water Paradigm. Jan wrote,
The New Water Paradigm presents a very useful way to view drought and other climate change, a way that shows how humankind can influence climate for the better simply by restoring natural water cycles that help to regulate climate. Reading this book will greatly enrich your understanding of the Global Action Plan. Learn the critical importance of the short, or small, water cycle that relies on transpiration, the natural cooling effect of trees and other plants through evaporation of rainwater through their leaves.
You won’t want to miss this post - click here to read more.
Voices of Water: Jan Lambert, In Memoriam
When writer Jan Lambert and hydrologist Michal Kravčík founded Voices of Water for Climate (VoW) in 2017, it was a product of a very productive phase in each person’s career, both dedicated to restoring nature and water cycles.
Sadly, Jan’s journey with us ended on April 24 after a brief bout with an aggressive form of cancer. Adam Sacks, Bio4Climate’s Executive Director, credits Jan’s unwavering support as a significant factor in the organization’s success.
Jan’s life has passed, but we will continue to fight for the new water paradigm shift in our culture. Says Associate Director Paula Phipps: “We will never forget Jan for the determination with which she dove into the water issue, writing the Valley Green Journal, and speaking out. She brought Michal Kravčík’s New Water Paradigm to our Water Cycles conference in 2015, making it a central focus in our perspective on water.”
Jan was a messenger who wanted to make sure the voice of water would be heard. As the incoming director of Voices of Water, while I know that she is irreplaceable, I can make room for those who keep spreading the message of healing our climate by harnessing the power of small water cycles.
Written by Zuzka Mulkerin, Director of Voices of Water
Below is a passage from our Compendium of Scientific and Practical Findings Supporting Eco-Restoration to Address Global Warming. This article is from our tenth issue, Volume 5 Number 2, (p. 21), published January 2022.
Characteristics, drivers and feedbacks of global greening
Piao et al. 2019
The amount of Earth’s green cover (measured as Leaf Area Index*) has increased globally since 1980, especially in northern latitudes, where growing seasons have lengthened. This is due mainly to increasing CO2 concentration, but also to warmer temperatures and changing precipitation patterns, nitrogen deposition, and land-use change (such as afforestation in China). Higher ambient CO2 can stimulate photosynthesis and reduce water loss, but the extent of the CO2 fertilization depends on the availability of other key nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and water. Warmer temperatures due to climate change have increased greening in northern latitudes by extending the growing season, but have diminished greening in the tropics, where temperatures were already optimal.
Greater global green cover has observable feedbacks on climate and the carbon cycle. In addition to offsetting 28% of anthropogenic emissions since 1980, vegetation affects hydrological cycles and air-surface temperatures. Since the 1980s, increased global evapotranspiration (ET) is mainly attributable to increased global greening. Higher transpiration rates from vegetation can reduce or enhance groundwater storage locally, depending on how the atmospheric moisture generated through evapotranspiration is recycled into rain and where that rain falls. In the world’s great rainforests, vegetation preserves groundwater.
The enhanced precipitation over transpiring regions is particularly evident in moist forests like the Amazon or Congo, which are ‘closed’ atmospheric systems where 80% of the rainfall originates from upwind ET. Such an efficient atmospheric water recycling mitigates water loss from the soil, sustains inland vegetation and maintains mesic* and humid ecosystems [Piao 2019: 9].
Vegetation affects land-surface temperature by way of ET (cooling effect) and albedo (warming or cooling effect, depending on how dark or light the surface is). While the relative strength of ET versus albedo varies by latitude, the net global effect of increasing vegetation cover is one of cooling the land surface.
*Leaf Area Index (LAI) is the quantity of leaf area per unit ground surface area; it’s a way to quantify the thickness of a vegetation canopy.
*Mesic refers to moderate moisture levels.
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