Many eminent people have gathered together in influential environmental assemblies to address the difficulties of ‘Climate Change’. It would seem from common consensus, that the way to potentially mitigate and solve these problems rests with implementing sustainable development programs. In 1992 at the United Nations Conference on the ‘Environment and Development’ it was agreed:
When considering sustainable development and the survival of life on Earth, the health and balance of the global fresh water system is the most important issue that needs to be addressed and raised to a level of paramount importance. When considering Earth’s fresh water system, it is vital to think about Mountain Regions.
At a sustainability conference held in Lucerne on 11/10/11 it was stated:
“Healthy mountain ecosystems are the foundation of healthy people, both in the mountains above and in the plains below. To save civilization, there is no greater urgency today than to regenerate and conserve our mountains. “Their role in regulating our climate and water systems is fundamental to the sustenance of our life on this planet.”(Dr Ashok Khosla, 2011)
The Brundtland Report contains within it the understanding that seemingly unrelated things effect each other through space and time. Considering space, air pollution from North America can effect air quality in Asia. Considering time, the decisions that our grandparents made about how to farm the land continue to affect agricultural practices and environmental conditions today
In present times there is increasingly greater interest regarding what factors enable development to be sustainable. It appears to be becoming more broadly acknowledged that in order for sustainable development to be possible, long-term environmental sustainability is essential.
Long-term Environmental Sustainability
Environmental Sustainability is not a new concept or idea. The nature of Earth with its’ rich biodiversity; which has evolved over millions of years, is based on long-term environmental sustainability. It is a way whereby multitudes of species are interrelated and work in highly complex symbiotic relationships for mutual long-term benefits. The interconnection, of the different species including humanity, brings about the different conditions for life to exist and evolve on Earth. Included in this is the relationship between climate and biodiversity. Climate not only supports certain types of biodiversity and environments but certain types of biodiversity and environmental conditions effect the climate. The fact that we are still here on Earth along with millions of other species proves that it is a successful environmentally sustainable system.
A Long-term Environmentally Sustainable Future
The potential for a long-term environmentally sustainable future fundamentally relies on the availability of certain necessary natural resources and environmental conditions. A resource that is necessary for environmental sustainability and stability is fresh water. Fortunately, unlike Crude oil, Coal and Uranium, the process by which fresh water is formed (the hydrological cycle) is relatively fast. However a vitally important component in this process is the high altitude indigenous mountain forests.
Unfortunately these have been depleted on such a massive scale worldwide that the global hydrological cycle has been seriously effected and its balance is now critically threatened. Nowadays the harms caused by unsustainable development are starkly apparent. They can be clearly seen in the cases of ‘Climate Change’ and the disruptions in the global hydrological cycle (Houghton, 1997).
“Climate change would be a less immediate threat, if we had kept pace with commitments to sustainable development enunciated again and again over the years.” (U.N Millennium Development Goals Report, 2008)
Therefore from governmental to rural grass-root levels, there needs to be concerted attention and action put towards protecting, restoring and maintaining ecosystems with emphasis on indigenous mountain forests.
Permaculture is a way of working with nature to create a more balanced, sustainable world. Permaculture is a system of environmental design whereby natural elements support one another. By studying patterns in the natural world, we can derive for ourselves, a set of guiding principles. Permaculture design uses these principles to develop integrated systems of biodiversity to provide for our needs of food, shelter, etc. in ways that are healthy and efficient for the good of the whole. Permaculture methods have proven to be very effective and could be very beneficial for restoring biodiversity through mountain regions.
“We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.” (Wangari Maathai)
“I know there is pain when sawmills close and people lose jobs, but we have to make a choice. We need water and we need these forests” (Wangari Maathai)