Efforts to improve the situation of indigenous peoples through restoration of the environment is one of the most intriguing stories to emerge from travel. One of the organizations doing important work in this field, the Environmental Educational Media Project, produced the documentary Hope In A Changing Climate, which promotes the enormous potential of restoration. Screened at the COP 15 climate change summit in Copenhagen last December and subsequently aired by the BBC, the film follows soil scientist John D. Liu, who for the past 15 years has been documenting changes on China’s remote Loess Plateau, where the local people have been transforming a barren plateau into a green and fertile one, reducing the effect of climate change. Liu explains:

“On the plateau, researchers realized that progressive degradation of the environment trapped the local population into a life of subsistence farming. It’s a process that has occurred across the globe, where poor agricultural communities find themselves overusing their land in order to survive, depleting its fertility and further impoverishing themselves. One thing that became apparent early on is the connection between damaged environments and human poverty. In many parts of the world there’s been a vicious cycle: continuous use of the land has led to subsistence agriculture and generation by generation, this has further degraded the soils.”

Shot on location in China, Rwanda and Ethiopia, Hope in a Changing Climate is a truly uplifting story of how ecosystem restoration helps stabilize climate, reduce poverty, and support sustainable agriculture.