Meet the Restoration Stewards
Meet the 2023 Restoration Stewards
Gloria Amor ParedesPhillipines
Tahina Roland FredericMadagascar
Samara PolwattaSri Lanka
Ysabel Agustina Calderon CarlosPeru
David Santiago Rocha CárdenasColombia
Gloria Amor Paredes Philippines, Forests
Gloria Amor Paredes is an environmental education and community development specialist. She is the co-founder of Salumayag Youth Collective for Forests, an Indigenous youth and women-led initiative that empowers local and Indigenous communities in the stewardship of their ancestral lands through regenerative practices and narratives. This project is based in Sto. Domingo, Quezon, Bukidnon, a Manobo-Kulamanen community on the Philippine island of Mindanao with a long history of ecological, social, and economic disadvantages. The work of Salumayag Youth is anchored on the community’s desire to nurture culture and sustain Indigenous ways of living. For Salumayag Youth, forest regeneration and regenerative agriculture must be accompanied by community storytelling and nature-based education.
About the project: Salumayag Youth Collective for Forests is an Indigenous and local youth-led initiative that empowers local communities to lead the stewardship of their ancestral lands through regenerative practices and narratives. The project is based on four main interrelating pillars of engagements. First, it works to regenerate land and culture through agroforestry and organic farming. With community youth volunteers, the collective manages native tree nurseries and natural regeneration methods. The project is also based on dialogues and training, including forest walks with Manobo youth volunteers, dialogues with smallholder farmers, and community consultations. Environmental storytelling also plays a big part for the collective as stories are a huge part of Manobo and other Indigenous cultures. Finally, it consists of a social enterprise, being in the exploratory stage for the collective farming of heirloom grains, coffee, and cacao, in addition to exploring farm tourism.
Tahina Roland Frederic Madagascar, Drylands
Tahina Roland Frédéric is a young Malagasy agronomist who specialized in forestry at the Higher School of Agronomic Sciences (ESSA) at the University of Antananarivo. He has over four years of experience in conservation in his native Menabe region of Madagascar and has been involved in park management, habitat and species conservation, law enforcement and sustainable livelihood activities. The idea behind Taniala Regenerative Camp came to him after leading community patrols to fight against slash and burn agriculture and to protect the region’s dry forest ecosystem. He is currently the president of this non-profit organization, and he is convinced that if we manage to promote a model of regenerative agriculture in Menabe, the degraded soil will regenerate and the forest will be restored.
About the project: Taniala Regenerative Camp aims to restore land that has been degraded by deforestation and agriculture in the Lambokely village of the Menabe region of Madagascar to prevent the irreversible loss of soil fertility. The project replicates forest ecosystem processes and “plants water” on these drylands through syntropic agroforestry, reconciling food production and ecosystem regeneration. The project consists of (i) developing models of syntropic agroforestry systems adapted to the local context; (ii) promoting these models to the local community, and (iii) practicing these models at the home garden, field and school garden levels.
Institutional Facebook: : @TanialaRegenerativeCamp
Dwi Riyan Indonesia, Wetlands
Dwi Riyan is originally from West Kalimantan, Indonesia and is currently completing his final year as a master’s student in Sustainability Management at the University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, and the University of Agder, Norway. Encouraged by his passion for youth development, he co-founded Pongo Ranger Community, a youth-based organization focused on youth empowerment in Ketapang, West Kalimantan. The organization recognizes that ecosystems are vibrant and connected and works to restore coastal areas and help coastal communities in the area. Pongo Ranger embraces collaboration as its primary approach and believes that environmental protection can create enormous positive impacts when all stakeholders unite for a common purpose.
About the project: Since starting his movement in 2018, Riyan and his youth group, Pongo Ranger Community, have focused on the intersection between nature conservation and human welfare through restoration and community development. Their coastal activity, Pongo-dopsi, promotes the restoration of mangroves in the coastal areas of West Kalimantan, Indonesia, to mitigate seawater intrusion into local farmland. Based on a collaborative approach, Pongo Ranger Community works closely with local farmers to prepare mangrove plants and with a group of young women to produce plastic-free eco-polybags made from Nipah leaf and bamboo for the restoration process.
Samara Polwatta Sri Lanka, Oceans
Samara Polwatta is pursuing a Joint Master’s at the University of Bonn and United Nations University institute for Environment and Human Security. This field has allowed her to understand human and environmental security and to how to engage in humanitarian relief, disaster risk management, ecosystem-based adaptation, and conservation. She is currently writing her master thesis on the topic of coral reef ecosystems as a tool for ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction. She also works as a Junior Consultant at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Integration team on data curation and data management related to SDG tracking within the GeoHub.
About the project: “School Meets the Reef” aims to grow the value of coastal ecosystems through coral reef restoration and by building awareness of coastal ecosystems. The project was established to fulfill the urgent need for restoration in Sri Lanka’s coral reefs and works primarily in Kalkudah, Batticaloa district. It aims to build artificial in situ coral reef nurseries and carry out monitoring and evaluation on the restored reefs and nurseries. The project is also guided by a strong educational focus, working with local schools to build awareness of the importance of coastal ecosystems, restoration methods and nature-based solutions around coastal ecosystems.
Ysabel Agustina Calderon Carlos Peru, Mountains
Ysabel Agustina Calderon Carlos (Ysa Calderon) is a beekeeper, farmer, environmental entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of Sumak Kawsay.
About the project: Sumak Kawsay is an environmental enterprise that promotes native bees and other pollinators conservation through the restoration of mountainous ecosystems in the village of El Higuerón, San Francisco de Asís peasant community in the Salas district, Lambayeque, Peru. It currently conserves three species of native stingless bees and reforests their impact zone with native and predated species such as palo santo, hualtaco and faique. To finance its work, the project sells honey and panela from local fields cultivated through agroecological practices, free of pesticide residues. Sumak Kawsay also offers agritourism services through the “honey route,” an experience of connection with bees, honey and nature, hosted by local women, thus allowing them to generate income and improve their quality of life.
Levis Sirikwa Kenya, Oceans
Levis Sirikwa has over half a decade of experience in coastal and marine resource management, specifically in the active restoration of degraded mangroves, sustainable agriculture and local coastal community empowerment. He co-founded the Ceriops Research Environmental Organization, which works on several projects within the blue economy space in Kenya. The projects that he manages in the organization include the Casina Farms (sustainable coastal agriculture), Mikoko na Jamii (mangrove and communities) and Mangrove Buddy (advocacy and awareness) programs. The three project models are underpinned by community empowerment, sustainable development and data-driven approaches.
About the project: The slogan for the “Mikoko na Jamii” model is to halt loss, double restoration, and triple protection through investments. Working directly with Indigenous coastal communities around mangrove ecosystems in Kenya, the project seeks to not only restore 1 hectare of degraded mangroves but also build the capacity of local communities to generate livelihoods through mangrove ecosystems. The project will be implemented across four community groups in Mombasa and Kwale counties. Upon the completion of the project, the project beneficiaries are expected to be able to conduct mangrove monitoring by themselves as well as understand the policy frameworks that govern their operations and hence align themselves to benefit from the provisions of the policy frameworks.
David Santiago Rocha Cárdenas Colombia, Peatlands
David Santiago Rocha Cárdenas is a Colombian ecologist currently working on decarbonization strategies based on natural climate solutions. He has been part of the Laboratory of Ecosystems and Climate Change (LECC) at the Pontifical Xavierian University for six years. LECC studies the potential of ecosystems in climate change mitigation. He has experience coordinating projects related to the study of the carbon cycle in the Colombian paramo, the generation of ecosystem restoration policies, and other tasks such as greenhouse gas flux measurements in wetlands. He started coordinating his first restoration project with the community of Paramo El Almorzadero, located north of the eastern cordillera of the Andes.
About the project: This project aims to restore 3 hectares of high mountain peatlands located in Páramo el Almorzadero in the municipality of El Cerrito Santander in the northeastern branch of the Andes Cordillera of Colombia. The peat bogs located in the Páramo have been drained for sheep livestock activities, leading to the loss of their functionality and ecosystem services. This has affected the supply of water resources for the community and released thousands of tons of methane gas into the atmosphere. The purpose of this project is to isolate peat bogs to prevent goats from entering the water bodies, to recover the vegetation cover, and to restore water flow. These activities are conducted in the hope of increasing ecosystem services, reducing methane and carbon dioxide emissions, increasing carbon accumulation, and empowering local communities to manage their projects and generate carbon credits that ensure their future sustainability and scalability.
Meet the 2022 Restoration Stewards
Sergio Esteban Lozano BaezColombia
Gabriela Gavarrete JuárezEl Salvador
Sergio Esteban Lozano Baez, Colombia, restoring Mountains
As Wangari Maathai said “Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven't done a thing. You are just talking”.
My name is Sergio Lozano-Baez, I’m from Colombia and I totally believe that forest restoration goes beyond planting trees. I have been involved in the challenging world of restoration since 2011, when I worked on the forest restoration plan for areas affected by alluvial gold mining in the Nechí river basin, Antioquia. Since then, my experience in different restoration projects in tropical ecosystems has increased.
In 2015 I started my PhD in Forest Resources at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Throughout my PhD experience I learned the principles of ecological restoration and importance of soil to recover the forests. I also improved my skills at scientific writing, publishing the results of my thesis in many scientific articles. In 2019, I started to coordinated my first restoration project with the NGO Selva – Research for Conservation in the Neotropics. This restoration project aims to restore 45 ha on the north of Tolima, Colombia, planting 25.000 native tree species in order to improve the habitat of two endemic and endangered bird species.
The Restoration Stewards program is the opportunity to grow and reinforce our project. Having been selected as the Restoration Steward for the mountain ecosystem brings me immense joy; I hope 2022 will be a year full of learning and lots of trees for the mountains"
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Hidayah Halid, Malaysia, restoring Oceans
“Vast green backyard at home and endless blue at my office. It’s the privilege that I wouldn’t trade in for anything else”
Hidayah Halid, a girl who grew up a daughter of a farmer in the small village of Nibong Tebal in Penang, her upbringing has been spoiled by daily golden sunset which profoundly give her tranquillity within nature. Following her naturalist quest, she discovered a new whole world below the surface and the journey has led her to pursue her career in protecting the marine ecosystem. Exploring nature has shown her the interconnectivity and complexity of each existing organism within nature and the marine ecosystem is intrinsically connected to the coastal community. Her passion is to preserve the ecosystem while protecting the well being of the coastal community. Living together with the coastal community of Perhentian Island has provided me the insight of local perception on their marine habitat and marine conservation. However, seeing the notable changes in the overall health condition of our reef, she felt the need of immediate intervention to minimize the impact of the ecosystem imbalance.
Restoring the landscape is one of the applicable approaches to help the ecosystem to recover from various degradation and for the ecosystem to become more resilient toward changes. Restoration is a process that needs constant momentum and collective efforts from each individual who benefited from the resources. Hidayah, through her organisation of Perhentian Marine Research Station (PMRS) has undertaken the responsibility to engage with stakeholder at every level to achieve sustainable resource management.
Therefore, as the 2022 Restoration Steward for Ocean Landscape, I would strengthen my advocacy in marine conservation within my coastal community via the local empowerment program of #AnakPulau whilst showcasing the beauty of Perhentian Island for its worth to be protected.
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Eka Cahyaningrum, Indonesia, restoring Peatlands
Restoration of ecosystems has taught her that multidisciplinary knowledge and collaboration are necessary to achieve a successful project.
She is called Eka Cahyaningrum from Indonesia, a Restoration Steward for Peatland Ecosystems. She loves exploring new places. Two of her favorite things to do in the forest are waking up early morning to observe primates while listening to the forest wake up, and putting on my boots at night to conduct amphibian surveys near the riverbanks and observe these beautiful creatures.
She started her restoration path in 2019 when she joined the firefighting team in Kalimantan and saw the detrimental impact of ecosystem degradation. She then volunteered in a mangrove, seagrass, and coral restoration project, where she learnt about coastal ecosystem restoration.
In 2021, she and her friends and decided to start their peat restoration project in Central Kalimantan, and since then She has been learning more about peatlands and its restoration efforts.
Their organization is Himba Raya Indonesia (HIRAI). Himba means Forest in Dayak and Raya means great in Indonesian. Their hope is to restore large areas of degraded peatlands, provide sustainable livelihoods for local communities, and raise awareness about environmental degradation in Central Kalimantan. They aim to build community resilience to climate change through nature-based solutions and community empowerment.
As a Restoration Steward for Peatlands, She seeks to further improve and expand her knowledge on peat restoration. Then, with this newly acquired knowledge and network, she would support peat restoration efforts in Central Kalimantan.
Adrian Leitoro, Kenya, restoring Drylands
Adrian is an ecopreneur and avid conservationist. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management but left it all behind to pursue his passion for environmental conservation. Adrian was born and raised in national parks in Kenya as his parents were conservationists working with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) - the body mandated with conserving Kenya’s wildlife. His experiences growing up in protected areas and seeing the importance of healthy ecosystems shaped his shift to conservation and restoration in 2019.
That is why he co-founded Nature and People as One (NaPO), a local conservation initiative working at the forefront of community-led conservation in northern Kenya. NaPO, currently, partners with the indigenous Rendille and Samburu communities to conserve their pristine landscapes, biodiversity, wildlife & culture.
As the 2022 RS for the Drylands, he would like to restore northern Kenya’s dryland ecosystems in a way that increases the involvement of local communities and generates benefits for them for their sustainable management and conservation of these landscapes.
Adrian is also currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Climate Change Adaptation with a focus on Nature-Based Solutions at the University of Nairobi.
Gabriela Gavarrete Juárez, El Salvador, restoring Forests
Restoring ecosystems is to understand what the earth is asking of us, not only to satisfy the needs of humans, but for all species to coexist properly.
Gabriela Gavarrete is a young Salvadoran biologist who began her restoration work in deciduous forests that suffer mainly from wildfires in the dry season. Her interests are related to nature conservation, biological restoration and the scientific research of beneficial insects for ecosystems.
Since El Salvador is one of the most deforested countries in the region, Gabriela decided to initiate a restoration project in the city of Santa Ana, Cerro Tecana, which is a hill that is part of a biological corridor composed of a deciduous forest, which has suffered many years of degradation due to fires and poor agricultural practices of its inhabitants. Their main interest is to work with the communities and involve them in the restoration process through workshops and training to improve their agricultural activities and fire management, create a community plant nursery and establish a plantation with native tree species.
As Restoration Steward 2022 for forests, I would like to inspire more people to join in ecosystem restoration and be able to replicate my project in other areas where forest management is needed, as the best restoration initiatives are those born from united communities that have understood that nature's resources are present in all our daily activities and that we depend on them, it is our responsibility to protect and restore our ecosystems.
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‘A society informed on restoration and conservation is one of the greatest hope earth has towards healing.’
Eva Makandi, commonly known as ‘Kandi’ is her name. Kandi is from Kenya and specifically, Meru County. She is a passionate sustainable community development and peace change agent who loves art and working with children in most of her community initiatives. Kandi believes in, and champions education as her ultimate catalyst towards empowering and transforming communities in a bid of achieving sustainable development.
Raised by her educationist and conservationist grandmother, she grew up loving nature and the serenity that came with it. However, this beauty has been fast fading in her Kiirua village. In a bid to reverse this, and bridge some of the socio-economic gaps in her community, she founded a community based organization; Light On A Hill (LOAH) in September 2020. Loah’s aims to transform community’s lives through empowerment. Under Loah’s restoration and conservation focus area, Kandi has been partnering with her community in restoring forests and the environment she grew up knowing so that the younger generations and those to come can have the opportunity to experience it and its ripple effect benefits.
As the 2022 forest R.S., I hope to educate, mentor and empower my community, specifically kids (5-14 years) to be stewards and champions of forests and environment restoration and conservation both locally and globally. I would also like to spark an undying light of sustainable restoration and conservation that will be amplified by present and future generations.
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Meet the 2021 Restoration Stewards
Marlon WebbCosta Rica
Frances Camille RiveraPhilippines
Grace Easteria, Indonesia, restoring Oceans
Coral Reef Restoration Project in a Thousand Island
Coral reef rehabilitation in Thousand Island aims to restore coral reef cover that has been damaged as a result of human activities. Seeing that the Thousand Islands are coral islands, coral reefs are greatly significant in the coastal protection of the local community. Besides its ecological benefit, this project also provides income through restoration projects and tourism activities and helps boost up the potential of marine tourism in the Thousand Islands which was previously damaged by over 60%.
Get inspired by Grace's hope for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Marlon Webb, Costa Rica, restoring Mountains
Bosque para nacer Agua
Communities depend on the mountains in the area mainly for freshwater. However, the degradation of this vulnerable ecosystem is increasing. It is a fundamental need to restore this ecosystem and the society depending on it. That is why at Diwo, we partner with the Bruncajc Indigenous Women’s Group “So Cagru” to restore the Boruca mountains, conserve freshwater and preserve cultural heritage.
Watch Marlon's day out on the field.
Get inspired by Marlon's hope for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Analí Bustos, Argentina, Restoring Forests
Proyecto Reserva Natural Monte Alegre
El Espinal is one of the most degraded forest ecosystems on the planet. We have lost much of its diversity and surface, while many people are not aware of its particularities and richness. At Monte Alegre, we work for the ecological and social restoration of our forests. Restoration must plant seeds in the earth, but it must also plant seeds in the hearts of people. This is the only way that can allow restoration results to be enduring over time.
Watch Anali's day out on the field.
Get inspired by Anali's hope for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Frances Camille Rivera, Philippines, Wetlands
Community-based mangrove restoration efforts of unproductive fishponds
The restoration project for wetlands is to enhance the bottom-up restoration efforts through participatory and knowledge-transfer to the local communities and community environment officers on the suitable methods of wetland restoration by means of targeted areas and multispecies planting. One of the activities is to restore unproductive fishponds and other barren areas around the country back to mangroves so that the areas become fertile and productive to enable possible alternative livelihood to the mangrove-dependent communities.
Watch Camille's day out on the field.
Get inspired by Camille's hope for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Charity Lanoi, Kenya, Drylands
Moilo Grass Seed Bank and Apiary
I would want to restore the degraded areas of Kuku Group Ranch through grass seed banks, tree planting, and beekeeping projects. The use of grass seed banks is our primary method of restoration for the project. Grass seed banks will not only benefit the women group economically, but also provide available pasture for livestock
Watch Charity's day out on the field.
Get inspired by Charity's hope for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Sumarni Laman, Indonesia, Peatlands
The Heartland Project
The Heartland Project focuses on different areas that are closely related to the Indigenous Dayak living system. First, the Tumbang Nusa village, located in Pulang Pisau regency, a source of hotspots for 23 years. The second area for the project is in Talekoi village, located in South Barito regency, which still has a lush forest, under the threat of forest fires.
Watch Sumarni's day out on the field.
Get inspired by Sumarni's hope for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Eirini Sakellari: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acting GLF Youth Coordinator