Green Gold

 

English subtitles (go here for trailer with Dutch subtitles)
Episode of Dutch television program Tegenlicht (VPRO)

“It’s possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems.” Environmental film maker John D. Liu documents large-scale ecosystem restoration projects in China, Africa, South America and the Middle East, highlighting the enormous benefits to people and planet of undertaking these efforts globally.

 


#1 Hope in a changing climate

A major project is restoring fertility and hope to China’s Loess Plateau – until recently one of the poorest regions of the country. Centuries of agriculture have removed the trees and leave land vulnerable to erosion from wind and rain. An area the size of Belgium, its once fertile soils have been washed away, leaving a blighted land scarred with deep ravines – and farmers scarcely able to make a living. For 15 years John D. Liu has been following a remarkable project to replant trees and stabilize the soils of the Loess Plateau. Once bare hillsides are now cloaked with green forest and productive fields. Hope in a Changing Climate follows John on a journey from China to Africa to find out how the lessons learnt about the Loess Plateau could help restore degraded lands around the world.

 

#2 Rwanda – Forests of Hope

John D. Liu turns his eyes towards Rwanda in this inspiring example of permaculture observation and action. He analyzes developments in Africa, where Rwanda is now the focus of an earnest bid to restore its degraded forests and farmland, whilst simultaneously improving the lives of the communities they host. You’ll see many excellent examples of holistic thinking in this short documentary. You’ll also learn of the praiseworthy work of Dr. Rene Haller, whose observational skills are highly adept at tailoring biological solutions towards rehabilitating the most degraded of lands.

 

 

 

#3 Rwanda – Emerging in a Changing Climate

Co-produced by the Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and the EEMP.

John D. Liu documents the steps Rwanda has taken to simultaneously develop its economy and address the challenges of climate change.CDKN has been supporting the Rwandan government to design its Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy. The strategy is an excellent example of climate compatible development – bringing together development, mitigation and adaptation into one coherent, low-carbon, climate resilient growth path.

 

 

#4 Women of the Gobi

Over time a traditional way of life based on semi-nomadic herding; well suited to the arid environment evolved here. This way of life has continued to the present and for many people in the Gobi remains the basis of their social and economic lives. Since the collapse of communism, the people of the Gobi have had to be more self-reliant and the women have emerged as leaders of new communities called Nukhaluls. The communities’ accomplishments are inspiring others, spreading a grass roots democratic movement that is pioneering people-centered conservation, helping to ensure a sustainable future for the land and the people and empowering women to replace failed state social services.

 

 

#5 Beating the Drum Loudly

Uganda is where HIV/AIDS was first discovered. Everyone in the country has been affected by this unprecedented public health crisis and while effective prevention has made Uganda one of the few countries in Africa where prevalence has decreased, in the past little could be done for those who were already infected. After years of waiting, antiretroviral medications have finally become more available thanks to several international initiatives. With the scaling up of antiretroviral therapies and new community-based support systems bringing hope there are many reasons to beat the drum loudly.

 

 

#6 Mongolia – A Steppe Ahead

Can an ambitious conservation plan save the underdeveloped Eastern Mongolian Steppe’s, the last bio-region of its type, from development ruin? John D. Liu travels to Mongolia to find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 


#7 The Next Steppe

From the Mongolian steppes the horsemen of Genghis Khan rode out to carve a great empire that stretched from the grasslands of Central Europe to the Pacific. Only in Eastern Mongolia does the steppeland survive intact. Covering an area almost the size of Japan, horses and a spectacular array of wildlife far outnumber the semi-nomadic human population. Beneath the steppe are valuable oil and gold reserves, which are the focus of attention of foreign companies. Via the UN, the Global Environment Facility is supporting an ambitious conservation effort. John D. Liu traveled the steppe to assess the chances for safeguarding the grassland ecosystem and a way of life the warriors of the great Khans would recognize.

 

#8 Scaling Up Poverty Reduction in China

China has raised hundreds of millions of people out of poverty since reforming its economy in 1978. But still tens of millions of poor people remain. The Chinese government together with the World Bank hosted an International Poverty Conference in Shanghai in May 2004.

This film shows China’s accomplishments in poverty reduction by demonstrating three case studies on “The Southwest Poverty Reduction Project”, “Growth and Transition in Wenzhou and Suzhou” and “The Loess Plateau”.

 

 

#9 A Line in the Sand

In Alashan, a remote region of grassland or steppe in the Mongolian Autonomous Region of China, the desert is growing by 1000 square kilometers per year. Fifty years ago there were 50 springs in the area, three rivers and 800 small lakes. Today, sand dunes roll across the plain and the springs, rivers and most of the lakes are gone. This Earth Report film travels to Alashan to find out what has gone so drastically wrong over so short a time, and to see what the Chinese authorities and development agencies are doing to draw a line in the sand.

 

 

#10 Businga Participatory Video

Anywhere in the world, overexploited ecosystems face the risk of serious degradation. This risk is even more pronounced in countries where the human population has limited alternatives to the exploitation of natural resources. The link between socio-economic development options and the quality of the natural environment is not always clear. Businga Participatory Video represents the outcome of the participatory video exercise that was conducted in Businga. It has been filmed by the community members and represents their version of the causes, consequences and solutions to deforestation.

 

 

#11 Vitshumbi Participatory Video

Vitshumbi is a small fishing village on the edge of Lake Edward in North-Kivu, Congo DRC. Due to bad management, war and overfishing the lake has been overexploited since the 1980s, which has severely disturbed the delicate thread between ecology and development and has led to conflict and malnutrition. In this film, community members of Vitshumbi, from fishermen to military, explore the situation from their own point of view and share ideas for improvement.

 

 

 


#12 Leading with Agriculture

When we discuss human impact on climate change, the focus is often on industrial emissions. Rightly so, but our agricultural practices also contribute greatly to greenhouse gasses. Agriculture is currently a big contributor to our climate change problems. However, it can also be a big part of the solution. By designing climate smart agricultural systems, the effects of agriculture could be turned around. People all over the world are investigating what climate smart agriculture could look like.

 

 

 

#13 Forests Keep Drylands Working

In this episode of the What if we change series, John Liu takes us on a global trip that focuses on drylands, their past function, their present dysfunction through a broadscale loss of forest cover, and its impact on soil loss and on the hydrological cycle. 70% of the world’s drylands is now degraded, and effects of climate change are especially prominent in dryland countries. Restoration of these, often vast, areas of land is therefore essential. This film shows there are ways to undo the damage we’ve inflicted upon our planet, like the PRESENCE efforts in South Africa’s Baviaanskloof.



#14
Climate Adaptation Efforts in Africa

The Mbaula Chititezo Stove and Rocket Barns are pioneering technologies that are saving forests in Malawi and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the process. Hestian Innovations, an Irish company, uses micro loans and carbon financing to provide cookstoves and barns for tobacco curing — simple technologies that use less wood — in one of the most deforested nations on Earth. Jeff Barbee reports.

 

 

 

#15 Perennial Paradise

All around the world people are asking what they can do to help to heal the earth. The permaculture movement is showing what individuals can do to bring health and happiness into their lives and at the same time restore the Earth’s natural ecosystem function. In “Perennial Paradise” Geoff Lawton shows some of the many simple but practical work being used and taught at the Permaculture Research Institute’s Zaytuna Farm in Australia.

 

 

 

#16 Food Security and Environmental Transformation in Ethiopia

In the Horn of Africa, famine and drought have plagued Ethiopia for years, but changes in agricultural practices and landscape management have shown that the solution can be simpler than it seems. Working to restore the landscape and the environment with the Productive Safety Net Program, the Ethiopian people have begun to transform the country and restore the health of the land.

 

 

 

 

#17 Land for Life

In the Horn of Africa, famine and drought have plagued Ethiopia for years, but changes in agricultural practices and landscape management have shown that the solution can be simpler than it seems. Working to restore the landscape and the environment with the Productive Safety Net Program, the Ethiopian people have begun to transform the country and restore the health of the land.

 

 

 


#18 Improving Energy Efficiency in Africa

The people and technologies shaping Africa’s energy future are going green. Correspondent Jeff Barbee reports from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Malawi on how energy from the sun, wind, water, and even garbage not only helps the environment but prove that it is just good business to go with renewables.

 

 

 

 

#19 What’s Killing the Bees

Honey bees, the essential pollinators of many major US crops, have been dying off in massive numbers since 2006. This threatens the American agricultural system and the one in twelve American jobs that depend on it. There is growing evidence that a new class of pesticides — nerve toxins called neonicotinoids, which are used on most US crops including almost all corn — may be toxic to bees. The Environmental Protection Agency allowed neonicotinoids on the market without adequate tests to determine their toxicity to bees.

 

 

 

#20 A Movable Feast

Growing food in cities. Entrepreneur and filmmaker Ian Cheney reports on why truck farms are catching on in New York. In Sweden, Plantagon, a leader in vertical urban agriculture, plans to feed tomorrow’s mega cities with skyscraper farms. And with more droughts and water shortages likely, scientists at Penn State University are finding new ways to help plants adapt to tough conditions.

 

 

 


#21 Fracking the World

US domestic gas production is on the rise because of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale rock by pumping millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals underground at high pressure. Environmentalists say this gas boon threatens water supplies and pollutes air. Now, as fracking expands around the world, so does growing resistance. This film focuses on three countries on the new fracking frontline: South Africa, Poland, and the UK.

 

 

 

#23 Grinding Nemo

This program looks at the dark side of shrimp and smart phone industries. Reports from Thailand, Bangladesh, and Indonesia uncover the brutal exploitation of people and the environment for profit.

 

 

 

 

 

#24 Swedish Environmental Technology

The future — Swedish style. Stockholm’s Royal Seaport, a rundown district in Sweden’s capital, is set to become a model of energy efficiency. Plantagon, a leader in vertical urban agriculture, has an answer to feeding the mega cities of tomorrow — urban skyscraper farms. The Stockholm eatery Nyagatan cuts carbon emissions by going local and organic. Solvatten, a Swedish water purification system that uses sunlight is now being used around the world.

 

 


Restoring the Earth: the Bonn Challenge

The future of our land, water and climate is under threat but large-scale ecosystem restoration can help reverse this. In 2011, the Bonn Challenge set a ten year target to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land. This short film, narrated by Dr. Jane Goodall, describes the many benefits of taking up this vital challenge.

 

 

 

 

Tamera Community in Portugal

tamera Large water cycles can be restored, even in extremely damaged landscapes. All around the world, people are working on solutions for the global water crisis. While applying different methods, they are following the same principle: collecting and decelerating rain water where it falls on the earth. In this way, the earth’s body can absorb the rain water, the groundwater level rises and the land can become fertile again. The example of Tamera shows how a decentralized and natural water retention landscape can heal a disturbed landscape and create the prerequisites for modern subsistence.

In this episode of the What if we change series, John Liu takes us on a global trip that focuses on drylands, their past function, their present dysfunction through a broadscale loss of forest cover, and its impact on soil loss and on the hydrological cycle. 70% of the world’s drylands is now degraded, and effects of climate change are especially prominent in dryland countries. Restoration of these, often vast, areas of land is therefore essential. This film shows there are ways to undo the damage we’ve inflicted upon our planet, like the PRESENCE efforts in South Africa’s Baviaanskloof.