Brilliant and youthful African change makers restoring the Earth

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The Youth in Landscapes Initiative and the Global Landscapes Forum announce the 2023 Restoration Stewards, representing Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America

BONN, Germany (7 December 2022) – Selected from over 220 candidates, seven youth-led ecosystem restoration projects are set to receive funding, mentorship and training to deepen the impact of their work across the globe in 2023.

As the climate and biodiversity crises accelerate, young people around the world are raising their voices to demand action on the international stage, turning up in numbers both at COP27 and at the ongoing COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal. Many are taking the situation into their own hands by launching projects to nurse their local landscapes back to health.

In this context, the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) have launched the 2023 edition of the Restoration Stewards program, which aims to support young restoration practitioners and their teams in developing their projects and raise local awareness of the importance of healthy landscapes.

The new cohort of Restoration Stewards was announced at the GLF’s recent Biodiversity Finance Digital Forum: Investing in Nature and People on 29 November 2022. The seven selected young people from across the globe are in charge of restoration projects in six ecosystems: forests, wetlands, oceans, drylands, mountains and peatlands.

Levis Sirikwa emerged as the top Kenyan Oceans Restoration Steward 2023 beating many other candidates. Sirikwa is a passionate coastal and marine resource advocate, focusing on active restoration of degraded mangroves, sustainable agriculture and local coastal community empowerment. He works at Ceriops Research Environmental Organization, which manages several projects within the blue economy space in Kenya. He is in charge of three key projects: Casina Farms (sustainable coastal agriculture), Mikoko na Jamii (Mangrove and Communities) and Mangrove Buddy (Advocacy and Awareness) Program. The three project models are unique as they are pegged on community empowerment, sustainable development and data driven approach.

Sirikwa is keen on the role that sustainable development plays in restoration in their projects. He notes that their projects are keen on social cohesion, the livelihoods of people adjacent to the mangrove ecosystem, and the environmental recovery from the restoration activity. Through their restoration efforts and model, they are able to convert 1 hectare of degraded mangroves, which in turn creates at least 45 (Casual) jobs, and 3 professional jobs. So far, they have grown and planted approximately 4,000 mangrove trees. Their projects also educate and sensitize the community on ecosystem goods and services from a livelihoods point of view.

Tahina Roland Frédéric is the Madagascan Drylands Restoration Steward 2023.

Frederic is a passionate agronomist, with a forestry conservation background. He is the President of Taniala Regenerative Camp, a nonprofit organization that protects dry forest ecosystems.

Over the last 4 years, he has been heavily focused on conservation activities in his native region of Menabe, Madagascar. He has been involved in park management, habitat and species conservation, law enforcement and sustainable livelihood activities. He also sensitizes the community against slash and burn agriculture, which is harmful to forests and the environment.

Frederic is convinced that by managing to promote a model of regenerative agriculture in Menabe, the degraded soil will regenerate and the forest will be restored. His passion project “Planting water through regenerative agroforestry to revitalize drylands in Baobab Country” focuses on soil restoration in order to create living soil that will enable the natural restoration and regeneration of other ecosystems, including agricultural and forest landscapes. The project aims to apply local, interdisciplinary and holistic approaches and incorporate practices that combine agricultural production and ecosystem regeneration, in order to create landscape with permanent inclusion of people rather than landscape that needs permanent protection from people

Over the course of the upcoming year, the Restoration Stewards will each receive a grant of EUR 5,000 along with support from the GLF’s network of experts to further develop their projects. They will also serve as ambassadors both globally and locally by advocating for sustainable landscapes on the ground and sharing their journey with a worldwide audience through a series of vlogs and blogs.

Other 2023 Restoration Stewards across the globe include:

Gloria Amor Paredes (forests, Philippines)
Dwi Riyan (wetlands, Indonesia)
Samara Polwatta (oceans, Sri Lanka)
Ysabel Agustina Calderon Carlos (mountains, Peru)
David Santiago Rocha Cárdenas (peatlands, Colombia)

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