Consano Earth’s Christmas 2021 Letter
By now many observers of the climate crisis rather expect each passing year to break records and for the world to suffer a barrage of ever more unusual weather events. Sadly 2021 met these expectations throughout the year. February’s Winter Storm Uri in Texas and a major outbreak of US tornadoes in December book ended a year which also saw in June a giant dome of high pressure leading to an extraordinary heatwave in Canada and record flooding in Europe in July. The Canada heatwave saw temperatures reach 49 degrees Celsius a record that exceeds the highest temperatures ever recorded in anywhere in the US, Europe or South America. Incredibly Canada beat its previous heat record by over 4 degrees Celsius. As Bill McKibben of the New Yorker put it: “The reason, of course, is the climate crisis: within days, researchers had demonstrated—with the modelling techniques of the new attribution science—that global warming had made such a heat wave a hundred and fifty times more likely. Essentially, this couldn’t have happened on the Earth we used to know.” We say goodbye to 2021 with the climate emergency alarm bells ringing louder than ever. There is no doubt that it is now "code red for humanity" as the 6th IPCC report published in August 2021 succinctly put it.
Looking back on 2021
Consano Earth was formalised in 2021 but the idea was conceived the previous year amidst the onset of COVID-19. We saw the pandemic as a call to action on climate change and a reminder that the importance of biodiversity needed to be amplified. Over 2020 and into 2021 we increased our charitable giving to several importance causes all of which were in some way involved with rewilding the land and/or the sea. Our planet has two lungs. Most of us focus too much on the green lung, the land that we see around us. However, we must not forget the blue lung, the importance of the ocean. As we got more involved with our charities, we decided we needed a way to channel our giving and work through a single entity that would bring together some of the initiatives we were supporting as well as potentially be a platform that could showcase some of the great work that was being done. The Consano Earth [Donor Advised] Fund was born. This page provides details of the charities we support as well as links to their websites for those wanting to learn more.
Whilst the pandemic restricted us from as much travel as we would have liked two trips during the year standout namely a visit to Wild Ken Hill (“WKH”) in June and a trip to the Carpathian Mountains in September.
WKH owner Dominic Buscall showed us and some friends from Heal Rewilding how his land is being transformed following his decision in 2018 to take his 4,000 acres of traditional farmland and divided it into three areas: 2,500 acres regenerative agriculture, 500 acres traditional conservation and 1,000 acres rewilding area. Whilst we are seeing an increasing number of dedicated rewilding sites these areas are likely at most to contribute one sixth of the 30% by 2030 UK tree cover goal targeted by Rewilding Britain. Other landowners, particularly farmers, need to get involved giving some of their land over to nature and helping embed and form nature corridors with the dedicated rewilding areas. Understandably these landowners need be convinced of the benefits, both financial and environmental, of operating a mixed more model than pure traditional farming. WKH is a fantastic example of mixing regenerative food and crop production with rewilding and conservation. It even has a dedicated 50 acre area for beavers that were reintroduced in 2020 (sadly we did not see them on our visit only their handiwork!).
Foundation Conservation Carpathia (FCC) was founded in 2009 by 12 philanthropists and conservationists with the goal to stop illegal logging of the woodlands around the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. FCC wish to protect a significant surface of Carpathian forests in form of a completely protected area for future generations. This is achieved by purchasing land and leasing hunting rights for full protection of all natural elements with private and public money. As of mid-2021 FCC have purchased over 25,000 hectares and aim to purchase an additional 10,000 hectares by 2025. We spent a day travelling around various parts of the conservation area guided by the wonderful Barbara Promberger, one of FCC’s cofounders. Thanks for a fantastic day Barbara! Last year FCC reintroduced bison to the region and currently have 28. We were so fortunate to see one of the herds during our visit. FCC are aiming to bring back beavers soon and some of our funding has gone towards some important eDNA monitoring work that establishes habitat baseline data before their reintroduction.
In August 2020 we listened to an episode of the “So hot right now” podcast which featured Marine & Natural History Photography degree students from Falmouth University. They had some great stories and clear desire to amplify much needed messages to help the climate crisis through the power of film. The students needed financial support after graduation to pursue their film making ambitions otherwise inevitably their attention turned to securing paid employment. Working closely with Anna Roberts at Falmouth we decided to help by funding a number of specific film projects that showcase the importance of rewilding in solution based pro-active stories. Caylon La Mantia and her team were chosen to make a film highlighting the importance of Kelp whilst Jacob Guy’s film will feature the coming together of communities to protect the ocean. As we write both films are in final edit, and we will be excited to share these in 2022. Given the success of the inaugural “Class of 2021” we will again be funding several graduates this academic year following the completion of their studies next May.
Looking ahead to 2022
We expect 2022 will be another year of good progress for the charities and work we support. What follows are just a handful of what we hope to see over the coming year.
Our core rewilding charity for the land is Heal Rewilding. Heal was only established in 2020 but has made great strides forward in its goal to raise money to buy land in England and then to rewild it. They are on target to secure their first site in 2022 which is being funded by a combination of donor grants and innovative lending. Watch this space!
Our core rewilding charity for the sea is Project Seagrass. Seagrass meadows promote biodiversity holding 40 times more marine life than seabeds without grass. They are able to store carbon dioxide, which contributes to global heating, at a rate 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. Seagrass meadows help prevent coastal erosion, as their long blades counter the ocean’s swell and provide a buffer to storm damage. Project Seagrass just kicked off their three year ReSOW UK project which will be critical in growing the evidence base in the UK on the efficiency of seagrass meadows. This work is more than just better assessing the storing and sequestering carbon by seagrass, but also looks at other “ecosystem services” that seagrass provides such as being an important nursery habitat for many fish species. Whilst we champion all things seagrass rewilding the sea needs to be thought of in a broader context. Project Seagrass are currently working on ideas to bring closer together the seagrass, saltmarsh, and oyster crowds in 2022 with restoration considered more at a seascape level. We look forward to supporting their efforts on this next year.
WildEast is on a mission to return 250,000 hectares or 20% of the land in East Anglia to nature. We will be supporting the team with their WildEdges initiative which calls on landowners to add a modest amount of regenerating scrub and grass buffers to land edges like hedgerows. WildEast has worked out that if all the hedges in their region were increased to an average of 10 metres that would return around 5% or 62,500 hectares to nature building in their words “great cathedrals of biodiversity” which would draw down millions of tonnes of carbon whilst also restoring the soil. The small ask of a few more metres of hedgerows makes a big difference!
2022 takes the crown from 2021 as the most important year in the climate emergency just as 2021 took it from 2020. The time for action is now and everyone can make difference. £20 sponsors a square of land at Heal Rewilding or even better become a Friend of Heal. Everyone can see what is happening in their local community. This could be helping the closest Marine Protected Area (Arran Coast is a great example and you can read about the importance of MPAs here) or by supporting an initiative like WildEast. Two of the best books we have read this year on the climate crisis and on what we need to happen are Bill Gates’ “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” and John Doerr’s “Speed & Scale – Solving Our Climate Crisis”.
All the very best for 2022
Nick & Elena Martin