Actor Aidan Gallagher calls for action to fix the planet

Mangroves are a remarkable tree at home on waterlogged coasts in tropical and subtropical regions. Their root systems protect communities from flooding and support diverse wildlife.

Mangroves are also a carbon reservoir; the soil in which mangroves thrive is rich in carbon and over time mangroves capture this sediment and hold it and the carbon in place. Mangroves are estimated to extract up to five times more carbon from the atmosphere than terrestrial forests, making them an essential tool in the fight against the climate crisis.

Yet, between 2015 and 2020, 10 million hectares of forests have been destroyed – mostly in tropical regions – and this loss of biodiversity is expected to accelerate unless actions to halt and reverse ecosystem degradation are put in place. emergency work.

We spoke to Gallagher about the restoration project and his hopes for the future.

UNEP: How did this project come about?

Aidan Gallagher (LW): I have been thinking about planting trees for a while. Envision is a sustainable company, which makes it the ideal partner for replanting forests. The hardest part of this whole initiative has been communicating the opportunity at hand. It takes a second for people to realize that we’re basically offering a way to plant a tree for free, as many times as you want.

UNEP: Which trees are these and why did you choose them?

AG: Envision Racing works with Eden Reforestation to plant mangroves, mainly in Madagascar. The main reason we plant these mangroves is because they absorb huge amounts of carbon. Mangroves and their soils are carbon super-absorbers.

UNEP: Scientists have estimated that we only have this decade to avoid climate catastrophe and massive loss of biodiversity – how do you feel?

AG: When people hear something like that, they can either be motivated or distracted – because it’s such a scary thing to hear. In terms of how it relates to this initiative, I feel like we have a lot of work ahead of us. I would like to see TreesWithAidan become something that pervades all school systems and is very easy to participate in.

UNEP: What can everyone do for our trees and forests?

AG: Well now with TreesWithAidan you can plant a free mangrove tree in Madagascar. All you have to do is make one of the 10 climate pledges on the Envision Racing site.

UNEP: In December, world leaders will meet in Montreal to discuss a new global agreement on biodiversity. What is your message for them?

AG: Protect our ecosystems. You, our rulers, have the ability to build a fortress around this house of cards if you wish. Enacting environmental protections through legislation and supporting the transition to sustainable practices is paramount in our fight to survive the climate and biodiversity crisis.

UNEP: Actors need to be great communicators. How should UNEP and others communicate the climate crisis to young people?

AG: We live in a very fast world. Everything comes in sound bites and in 15 second increments. It is very important that we translate these very complex issues into something simple and personal for people. They need to know exactly what the problem is, how it will affect them, and what they can do about it. Otherwise, these messages will be lost during translation.

UNEP: How can we ensure young people have a voice at the table?

AG: I hope my generation will take the initiative to elect people who will fight on their behalf. Other than that, everyone in a position of power has a responsibility to leave this world a better place than they found it.

UNEP: You have been in the public eye for a long time. Have you noticed more conversations about the climate and biodiversity crises among your fans, peers and friends?

AG: I have. This is partly because of the problems I have tried to promote, and partly because we are approaching an increasingly irreversible future.

UNEP: Your job is to tell stories. How do we change the story that many are telling about the planet (i.e. one of unlimited resources) into a story about the importance of protecting and restoring our natural world?

AG: People go into denial when their reality is too scary to handle. We are either headed for a bright future or something difficult, and the world has to choose. It’s not entirely hopeless. In fact, it could be an amazing future. But it won’t unless everyone does something about it. Our leaders should take care of it for us, but unfortunately they have shown us that they will not, at least in the expedited timeframe that all the scientists say we need. It is therefore up to individuals to fight to control them and ensure that they are the voice of the people and that they work in [our] higher interest.

Healthy ecosystems rich in biodiversity support life on Earth. Despite the value that nature provides, it is deteriorating worldwide – a decline that is expected to worsen under business as usual scenarios. From December 7-19, the world will come together for the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal to reach a historic agreement to guide global action on biodiversity until 2030. The framework should present an ambitious plan that implements large-scale action across all sectors to address key drivers of loss of nature to ensure that by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is realized.

The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 is a call to protect and revitalize ecosystems around the world for the benefit of people and nature. It aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems and restore them to achieve global goals. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the United Nations Decade and is led by UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

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