It’s the organic matter that really matters

Camper weeding at camp altiplano,an Ecosystem Restoration Camp
The Joy of Weeding
July 3, 2017
The parking lot recycled
Reclaiming Asphalt
July 12, 2017

It’s the organic matter that really matters

healthy and unhealthy soils compared

Over years and decades of studying ecology and climate related subjects I’ve come to understand that it is the percentages and total amounts of vegetation and the percentages and total amounts of organic matter in the soils that are the indicators and determinants of ecological health.

Vegetation and the decaying organic material that accumulates as each generation of life lays down its body in death to nurture the next generation is the mechanism that nature has used to generate, constantly filter and continuously renew the atmosphere, the hydrological cycle and the healthy fertile soils. These factors are dynamic and are dependent on our knowledge and our actions. It is wonderful to realize that it is possible to restore natural ecological function. There is great satisfaction in knowing one’s work can restore stream flows, ensure food security and protect biodiversity.

food forest plants insects

Very positive developments are occurring right now all over the world. Millions of people are already working to restore health and fertility to soils. There are successful projects in many parts of the World to rehydrate dehydrated biomes … ensuring that all moisture is infiltrated and retained to nurture the Earth’s biological systems. Large numbers of people are working to protect and regenerate the amazing biodiversity that over evolutionary time altered a molten rock into a beautiful garden … a miraculous paradise.


Disaster is the logical outcome of not understanding how the Earth functions

Over years, decades, centuries and millennia, human civilization has acted from ignorance of these systems and from greed in choosing to value the material things we have extracted from the functional earth systems rather than Life and the Earth’s ecological systems themselves. This is a huge mistake … that leads to many consequences that we are experiencing now.

We can see that droughts, floods, hurricanes, famine, political and economic disarray, prejudice, racism, depression, suicide, migration and war are all logical outcomes of not understanding how the Earth’s natural ecological systems function. It is possible to describe and track precisely the causes and effects of these unnatural disasters.

As the growing catastrophic risks of our accumulative mistakes become increasingly apparent to more and more people the fabric of society begins to fray. Many reactions to increasing revelations of the disruptions in the political and economic arenas are representing anger and frustration. These outbursts may give some momentary satisfaction but are unlikely to address the serious underlying problems that we face. I’d like to recommend that we walk together on a more productive path.

Restoring the Earth needs to become the central intention of human civilization. In order for this to happen millions and tens of millions of people must be aware that it is possible to restore the Earth and be able to do it. This will lead to meaningful work for every human being on the Earth and end the concept of unemployment. It will begin to be realized that real wealth for humanity is not the accumulation of material possessions. Real wealth exists in ensuring that all can live in dignity and with their inalienable sovereign rights.

John D Liu at the future Altiplano camp site

More about the Ecosystem Restoration Camps

The Ecosystem Restoration Camps Foundation has been conceived to create the conditions that will allow people of all walks of life and from all over the world to live and work together to change the course of human history and restore the natural ecological functions on the Earth. They will do this by simply restoring ecosystems where the camps are invited to work and by continuous training of those who choose to learn how to do this.

We are striving to ensure that the camps are sustainable, self organizing, self governing, comfortable, healthy places where those who choose to work in service of humanity can study, practice and grow together with like minded people from the local communities where the camps are invited to be sited and with volunteers from all over the world. We are planning for excellent organic food, comfortable dwellings, with healthy recreational opportunities as well. We are discussing a limit on working … of 5 hours a day for 5 days a week … to ensure that we have fun while restoring the Earth and that culture, music, food, recreation and peace building are all part of the experience.

Image of an Ecosystem Restoration CampIf you can afford 10 Euros per Month to support this effort I urge you to join this growing community by becoming a founding member of the Ecosystem Restoration Camps Foundation.

If you don’t have the resources to support but wish to learn about regenerative agriculture and large-scale ecosystem restoration the camps are being built to make this possible.

Alone the scale of the problems we face can be overwhelming but together we are a powerful force that can change the world.

Lets go camping and restore a little bit of paradise every day.

Join us by becoming a supporting member.


  • Justin says:

    Thank you John for this blog. As mentioned before, I am currently the project coordinator for an ambitious, and dare I say, audacious river basin/landscape stewardship project here in south-western Portugal. Almost the entire area falls under the Natura 2000 network: de jure but not de facto I am afraid. Land and forest restoration will be key elements of the project, but as all the land within the 22,000+ hectare area of the river basin is privately owned, we have our task cut-out for us to engage with the many stakeholders, landowners and absent landowners (land abandonment is reasonably high here as this is a marginal agricultural area). Eucalyptus plantations have become the fall-back mechanism for rapid financial gains or returns. Unfortunately the methods used to develop these plantations are extremely destructive and large vegetated areas are being completely cleared of all existing vegetation making way for the cutting of terraces and the planting of these monoculture plantations. The opportunity for camps in this area exists. However, we are still in the early stages of the project and, as yet, we still do not have any land in the area, something we are working on with the local municipalities. There are 3 municipalities involved from 2 regions, which makes life interesting. More on what we are achieving later. Justin.

  • John Dennis Liu says:

    Dear Justin: All best wishes for your efforts. I hope the foundation and the camps can grow and strengthen to help all who invite us to collaborate on restoration. The fires this summer in Portugal punctuate the need. Do keep us informed of your work and what others can do to help.

    • Justin R-Sondergaard says:

      Hi John. Thank you for your response. I am certain that sometime in the near future we can organise for a camp in the project area. Fortunately, so far this year, the southwestern area of Portugal has not yet suffered from wildfires as has central and northern Portugal with devastating consequences. The project aims to address the interlinked issues of biodiversity loss, land use changes (to monoculture plantations), and climate change as indelible drivers of land degradation, along with other complex underlying and proximate factors. Justin.

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