Rescue Earth System

Regenerative Food System

“Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity — resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.

Regenerative Food System

Integrated Bioregional Regenerative Food System

The Rescue Earth System believes that the regenerative restoration of farming areas and the establishment of integrated bioregional Regenerative Food Systems is the best way to address food security and ecosystem integrity. Furthermore, by using the whole systems approach of the Regenerative Design Framework we can transition to a better world for people and the planet.

Truly regenerative food and farm systems close loops of energy, nutrients and most importantly meaning and culture. They must reconnect people to the land and to farming.

Integrated Bioregional Regenerative Food System

A primary goal of the Regenerative Food System Initiative is to help communities better understand how localizing their food system to a bioregion can contribute to achieving environmental stewardship, economic development, and long-term sustainability goals, making clear their interdependence.

Why ‘Integrated’?

In the context of the whole systems approach to food systems, ‘integrated’ refers to the interdependence of the food system and the dynamics of the community — (1) the local economy, municipal, regional and electoral districts, transport routes, land use patterns, etc. and (2) the local environment — the ecology, rainfall patterns, topography, etc.

An Integrated Bioregional Regenerative Food System is an interconnected web of activities, resources and people that extends across all domains involved in providing nutritious health sustaining food to communities. This includes production, processing, packaging, distribution, marketing, consumption and disposal of food in a bioregion.

We propose the redesign / re-evaluation of food production methods and food systems models for the development of integrated bioregional Regenerative Food Systems. This can be achieved by using an ecological approach to small–scale agriculture from a bioregional perspective while analyzing and evaluating the cultural, political, and economic dynamics that influence the sustainability of food production.

Why ‘Bioregional’?

This Regenerative Food System Initiative also brings focus to the concept of a “bioregion” and, in doing so, the necessity of aligning communities and economic activities, including food provision, to their immediate environment and the ecology of where they live — their bioregion.

Sustainable agriculture and food systems should be fully linked to and be reflective of the ecology and the environmental capacity of where they occur. Therefore, food systems should be assessed and planned for at the bioregional scale. Bioregions are generally defined as areas that share similar topography, plant and animal life, and human culture.

However, bioregions are not just geographical or political areas delineated by lines on a map, they are conceptual as well. Bioregionalism adheres to the holistic notion that human settlement and land use patterns must be viewed as integral, functional components of ecosystems rather than as separate, unrelated entities. For example, consideration of traditional hunting and gathering areas are necessary to delineate boundaries that are meaningful to a bioregion’s inhabitants.

The Purpose of a Regenerative Food System

A regenerative food system should provide the kinds of wholesome, nutritious foods we need and want. It should also buffer us from the uncertainties of global economics and climate change, better position us to address critical environmental issues, and contribute substantially to our local economies. Informed decision making leading to policy development and implementation is key. But to make good decisions we require information.

The Integrated Bioregional Regenerative Food System brings data-driven information to the discussion of our food system future. And the findings clearly indicate — for community leaders, planners, and policy makers — the necessity of thoughtful, targeted action if greater levels of bioregional food self-reliance and related community sustainability goals are to be achieved.

The bottom line is that, in addition to global issues, many bioregions are facing a number of pressing local challenges: an increasing population, threatened farmland, environmental degradation, and economic vitality and the strength of its agricultural sector.

The Regenerative Food System highlights the potential of a more sustainable, bioregional food system to address these local challenges. It demonstrated that such a food system could play an important part of a comprehensive vision for a sustainable future.

Many communities are motivated to support a bioregional framework that brings the food economy home. The Integrated Bioregional Regenerative Food System can and should operate to achieve what we want it to. It really is up to us.

The sustainability of global food production is one of the greatest challenges we face. In meeting that challenge, we need to return to a greater reliance on local agriculture.

When a predominantly wildlife / conservation orientated organisation such as the WWF starts to focus on food production, then you know that the food production system is critical to the future of wildlife and our planet. A key goal of the Rescue Earth System is integrating regenerative food production with ecosystem restoration.

WWF’S WORK IN AGRI-FOOD SYSTEMS

WWF recognises the fundamental truth that healthy ecosystems form the foundation of a secure food supply, and that resilience at a production level is essential if the entire food system is to be regenerative.

Until a few years ago, WWF focused on the impacts of agricultural production, which are by far the most significant environmental impacts. However, focusing on farms only will not bring about the necessary structural transformation that is needed for a resilient and secure food system.

If we want to achieve this shift within a complex adaptive system, we need to follow a socio-ecological approach where the social, economic and political dimensions (the actors) are embedded within the ecological component (nature). This approach hinges on understanding all the possible interconnections and feedback loops so that, in intending to fix one thing, we do not create another unintended consequence.

As these challenges cannot be solved by one actor alone, collaborative solutions are fundamental – urgent action is required across sectors and at multiple scales. While it is recognised that a systemic approach of this nature also includes marine impacts, wild-caught fish and aquaculture, these elements are not covered explicitly in this report (see WWF’s 2016 Oceans facts and futures report).

In this context, four interlinked strategic objectives form the core of WWF’s work. The organisation is working in partnership with key stakeholders to:

  • secure the ecological foundation of food security and rural livelihoods through regenerative agriculture at all farm scales, from commercial to smallholder farmers
  • promote responsible procurement practices
  • reduce food loss and waste by supporting evidence-based action
  • establish consumption patterns with positive environmental and health outcomes.

Read the WWF SA’s 2019 Report

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We must rise and face the environmental challenges of our time by reversing the economic, physical and social decline of places. This can be achieved by the practice of regenerative restoration of degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action.

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