Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A university lecturer has proposed creating a state sanctioned volunteer army of youth conservationists, to harness the green enthusiasm of young people.
National service for the environment and a Green New Deal to fight climate change – Imagine newsletter #1
March 29, 2019 3.31am AEDT
A national service for the environment
Michelle Bloor, Principal Lecturer and Environmental Programme Manager at University of Portsmouth, argues that a volunteer force of conservationists could offer experience and training to young people and ensure there are eager applicants for the vital work of helping the world’s species and habitats most threatened by climate change.
Young people could get on the act straightaway, from replanting mangrove swamps in Vietnam and helping reintroduce beavers in Scotland to measuring coastal pollution in Senegal.
Bloor groups the work a national service for the environment could cover into four categories:
Data collection – by surveying wildlife abundance or measuring water quality in lakes and rivers, volunteers could help scientists understand how ecosystems are changing.
Green construction – restoring wooded habitat could absorb carbon and create corridors which connect pockets of wildlife in fragmented habitats. Large-scale construction projects could involve volunteers working on habitat highways – green corridors which help wildlife cross road networks.
Species reintroduction – helping ecosystem engineers, such as beavers, return could help the process of expanding natural habitats. These animal recruits could create new dams and lakes, which provide new opportunities for more species to thrive.
Reforestation – humans have cut down three trillion trees since the dawn of agriculture – around half the trees on Earth. A mass reforestation effort would need plenty of volunteers worldwide, something a youth volunteer force could supply. In the UK, increasing total forest cover to 18% could soak up one third of the required carbon emission cuts needed by 2050, according to the 2008 Climate Change Act.
Change in the forest and woodland cover of England over the last 1,000 years. DEFRA, Author provided
Read more: National service for the environment – what an army of young conservationists could achieve
A national service for the environment would see individuals taking a direct role in mitigating climate change, but there is also an emerging political project aiming to capitalise on public support for action.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/national-service-for-the-environment-what-an-army-of-young-conservationists-could-achieve-113276
I suspect a lot of that green enthusiasm would drain away very quickly after the young green national service volunteers discover cellular reception is a bit spotty in their particular section of bug infested swamp.
But many I’m being too cynical – perhaps this would be a real opportunity for young greens to actually do something, work off some of that energy.