Volunteers plant mini-forests in Paris to slow climate change, tackle heatwaves

French volunteers are using a pioneering Japanese tree-planting method to create pocket forests in Paris in the hope they will slow climate change, create biodiversity hotspots and tackle the growing number of heatwaves in the capital.

On a damp Saturday afternoon in a southern suburb of Paris, a young boy of 9 wields a spade to plant a sapling on an abandoned strip of land.

He isn’t that much taller than the young tree he is planting. The afternoon rain has churned the ground beneath him into mud. He casts his spade aside and clears the clay earth with his hands.

Along with his proud grandmother, and his fellow volunteers, he’s immersed in planting a mini-forest, also known as a pocket forest, besides a busy motorway in the neighbourhood of Chevilly-Larue, 9.3 kilometres south of central Paris.

French non-profit Boomforest has organised a tree-planting initiative, drawing a dozen volunteers of all ages, clad in beanies and boots as they brave the cold and rain.

Grazia Valla, 79, a former journalist, said she “jumped at the chance to do something concrete” about climate change and show her grandson how to plant trees.

“He loves going to the community vegetable garden,” she said, casting an affectionate look in his direction. “Whenever I look after him, he’s always clamouring to go there.”

“Not every child has the chance to see how vegetables grow and taste them,” she said, applauding the initiative. “We are very interested in everything to do with nature.”

Maxim Timothée, 31, was happy to be outdoors and was motivated by the simple, symbolic act of planting a tree.

“It does feel really special to plant a tree,” he said, taking a brief pause from cutting into the damp clay. “It’s not just an object. I feel connected to the life of this tree. I want to protect it. I planted it.”

Pocket forests are popping up all over France in the hope they will tackle climate change and create biodiversity hotspots. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

Despite the drab weather, Timothée said it felt good to be taking action, rather than just sitting at home ruminating on the problems of climate change and the sharp decline in biodiversity.

The Miyawaki method

Mini-forests were first developed in the 1970s by the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who studied the relics of centuries-old forests growing around sacred temples and shrines.

Miyawaki found they were not only thriving without human intervention – they were richer and more resilient than more recently planted forests.

In his study of ancient primary forests, Miyawaki claimed that densely planted indigenous species, grown in carefully prepared soil at four different heights to provide multiple layers of coverage, grew up to 10 times faster and captured more carbon than standard managed forests.

Miyawaki went on to monitor the planting of more than 1,500 forests worldwide, claiming that a forest as small as 100 square metres could be home to exceptional levels of biodiversity.

Advocates of Miyawaki forests have adapted his methods and transported them around the world as cities look to curb the effects of climate change, restore degraded land, create biodiversity hotspots and sequester greater amounts of carbon.

Forests the size of tennis courts have been planted in Beirut, in cities in Asia, all over India, and increasingly through Europe.

Paris planted its first mini-forest on the northern edge of the city ringroad at the Porte de Montreuil in March 2018 with Boomforest’s grant from the French capital’s participatory budget. 

“Ninety-five percent of the trees planted there have survived,” says Guillaume Dozier, 33, a regular Boomforest volunteer, as he carried compost in a wheelbarrow to mulch the soil around the newly planted saplings.

Saplings are planted closely together in keeping with the tree-planting method pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. Volunteers with the French non-profit Boomforest plant a mini-forest by a motorway in Chevilly Larue.
Saplings are planted closely together in keeping with the tree-planting method pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. Volunteers with the French non-profit Boomforest plant a mini-forest by a motorway in Chevilly Larue. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

“The trees have now grown to a height of nearly four to five metres,” he reports with delight, adding that biodiversity in the mini-forest is now thriving.

“Every time we go there we notice more and more insects and birds that weren’t there before,” Dozier says, explaining that they were setting up a programme to monitor the species gathering there.

Motorways are “an extremely hostile environment” for birds and insects, says Dozier over the roar of traffic, explaining that Val de Marne authorities had given them the land by the side of the road to plant the new forest.

By recreating the same richness and density of a wild forest, the new trees will provide shelter for hundreds of small mammals, insects and birds, Dozier continues.

Unlike artificial forests planted for timber production, where the trees are laid out in neat lines and planted 10 metres apart, trees in Miyawaki forests are planted closely together.

As many as three trees per square metre were being planted at random by the side of the motorway, with the slender young saplings clustered closely together.  

Planting a single tree has been shown to have the same cooling effect as 10 air conditioners. But trees are social and fare much better when planted in the company of fellow trees, explains Dozier.

“They’ll give each other shade, and they’ll be able to exchange water, nutrients and information. If one of them is under attack, they’ll be able to warn the others. For example, they’ll make their leaves bitter to make them less edible for the attacker,” he says. 

Volunteers on January 14, 2023 hope that the mini-forest will help slow the effects of climate change.
Volunteers on January 14, 2023 hope that the mini-forest will help slow the effects of climate change. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24


All of the saplings are local French species. By local, the City of Paris defines French indigenous plants as those in the region before AD 1500, Hannah Lewis explains in her book, “Mini-Forest Revolution: Using the Miyawaki method to rewild the world”. But the Boomforest team carried out additional research to ensure their trees and shrubs were the most locally adapted species, and would cohabit well.

Oaks, ashes, beeches and willows are planted in the centre, while shrubs such as hazel, holly and charcoal are planted around the edges. Just 15 different species of plants were planted that weekend but as many as 31 local trees and shrubs have been planted at Boomforest’s other projects.

Pocket forests in Paris

Proponents of pocket forests also hope they can make a city as dense as Paris more habitable in the heat.

In the summer of 2022, Paris sweltered in three successive heatwaves over a total of 33 days, and temperatures in the French capital hit near-record highs of 40 degrees Celsius.

The lack of trees, and the shade and quiet they provide – Paris has about 9% tree coverage – was conspicuous as the city became a furnace.

Parisians wilted in the city’s paved streets as the asphalt, concrete and metal from buildings soaked up the baking heat and beamed it back out again.

Paris City Hall has vowed to plant 170,000 trees in the French capital by 2026. But their felling of 76 ancient plane trees in April last year, to make way for garden spaces, sparked the wrath of environmentalists including Aux Arbres Citoyens and the GNSA, groups that fight against tree felling.

Green activists also say that newly planted saplings are no competition for the cover provided by a decades-old tree, and that young trees are particularly vulnerable to drought.

Eliziame Siqueira said her concern about climate change had sparked her to take concrete action and join the tree-planting initiative on January 14, 2023.
Eliziame Siqueira said her concern about climate change had sparked her to take concrete action and join the tree-planting initiative on January 14, 2023. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

Critics of Miyawaki-style forests add that mini-forests are expensive to plant and that the science behind planting them in Europe is not sufficiently robust. A 2010 study of a mini-forest in Sardinia, one of the rare studies on mini-forests in Europe, put the tree mortality rate after 12 years at between 61 and 84 percent.

Despite the Paris authorities’ seeming enthusiasm for planting trees, Dozier conceded it was hard to find space in the city centre for them.

“Paris is a bit of a museum,” he said wryly, adding that mini-forests have only been planted at the gates of the city, at La Porte Maillot and La Porte des Lilas.

He hopes one day they will have a chance to plant a mini-forest in the heart of Paris, adding that they were adapting their tree-planting methods and learning all the time. He also hopes that others will decide to plant their own pocket forests, and that those feeling anxious about climate change will be encouraged to take action. Downloadable step-by-step instructions for forest planting are outlined at J’agis je plante (I act, I plant), on the Boomforest website, and other mini-forest groups in France such as MiniBigForest and Toulouse in Transition.

By late afternoon, the rain had grown heavier. But the volunteers’ enthusiasm showed no sign of waning. Nearly half of the 250 square metres they wanted to reforest that weekend had been dug and laid with saplings. When Boomforest’s budget allows, they hope to return to plant more on the 800 square metres total they have been allocated.

Over the next few months, in the spring and then the autumn, Boomforest’s regular volunteers will return to the newly planted forest to remove any weeds that might compete with the young trees and monitor their progress.

In just three years, the new forest will be autonomous. In 10 years’ time Boomforest hopes it will have the appearance of a 100-year-old natural forest.  

Valla hopes that her grandson will return to the forest in the spring, and in many years to come.

“I hope he’ll come here to walk around and say, ‘Hey, I really did something here’.”

Volunteers braved the cold and rain to plant saplings on 250 square metres of land given to them by Val de Marne authorities, on January 14, 2023.
Volunteers braved the cold and rain to plant saplings on 250 square metres of land given to them by Val de Marne authorities, on January 14, 2023. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

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Can US shale gas save Europe from its energy crisis?

On the surface, booming US shale gas production looks like the perfect solution for Europe as its reels from the energy crisis created by tearing itself away from Russian gas. But analysts say it is no panacea.

US shale gas output has lost none of its momentum, as the US shale revolution is fading as far as oil is concerned.

In western Texas’s Permian Basin – one of the world’s most important oil and gas production areas – gas prices actually went negative in October because output was so high that producers had to pay people to take it off their hands.

And compared to oil, “there is potential for more growth”, said Kenneth B. Medlock III, senior director at the Center for Energy Studies at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston.

This looks like the perfect situation for the US’s allies across the Atlantic as the energy crisis racks the old continent. Indeed, EU imports of liquified natural gas (LNG) from the US have already soared since Russia invaded Ukraine and Europe cut off its dependence on Russian gas – increasing by over 148 percent in the first eight months after the invasion compared to the same period the previous year. Most of this gas comes from shale drilling.

“The entire reason US LNG exports are even possible to begin with is because of the shale revolution,” emphasised Eli Rubin, a senior energy analyst at energy consultancy EBW Analytics Group in Washington DC. “If it weren’t for that, the US would be importing LNG on a pretty widespread basis, competing with European countries for natural gas supplies.”

‘The problem is export capacity’

Yet analysts caution that, while LNG from US shale can help Europe amid its energy crisis, it will not single-handedly rescue the old continent.

“I don’t think Europe will ever receive as much gas as LNG from the US as it did from Russia through pipelines,” said Samantha Gross, director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. “Europe got a lot of gas from Russia; it’s a tremendous amount of gas to replace.”

“There is an issue in terms of how much gas the US can get to Europe, at least in the short term,” Rubin said. “The problem is export capacity, not the amount of gas the US is producing,” Gross agreed.  

Exporting natural gas is a complicated and expensive process, requiring liquification, transport to export terminals, boats to move the gas to the country buying it, then a regasification process when it gets there. A lack of capacity at any of these points creates supply constraints – so supply is lagging a boom in demand. 

The example of the Permian Basin last autumn illustrates this – there was abundant demand for all that gas, but as Rubin put it, “the pipelines do not yet exist to take of all the gas from West Texas to East Texas so it can be exported”.

“The US will take three to five years to really ramp up infrastructure for LNG export,” Rubin continued. “As far as the short-term outlook goes we do have this bottleneck in terms of export capacity.”

Importing non-liquified gas through a pipeline is therefore much cheaper and easier for Europe – coming without the need for liquification, transport by land and boat, and regasification. “One of the reasons why Russian gas was so cheap for Europe was that it came through a pipeline,” Rubin observed.

‘No one saviour’

Hence Europe has been keen to boost gas supplies from its near abroad, especially where pipeline infrastructure is already in place.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went to Baku in July to sign a deal doubling the bloc’s gas imports from authoritarian Azerbaijan, using a network of pipelines to Italy called the Southern Gas Corridor.

The same month, then Italian prime minister Mario Draghi travelled to Algeria to sign a series of deals to ramp up gas imports, even as a political crisis brewed in Rome. Again, a pipeline makes the gas simpler and less expensive to import than if it came in the form of LNG – namely the TransMed pipeline from Algeria to Italy set up in 1983. Closer to home, gas-rich Norway has turbocharged gas supplies to the rest of Europe, benefitting from the Langeled pipeline. And when it comes to LNG, Qatar has also become integral to Europe’s scramble for new gas sources.

But there are limits to all four of those countries as gas suppliers to Europe. “Any further increases in pipeline exports of natural gas from Azerbaijan and Algeria are likely to be small relative to the increase in global LNG capacity,” noted Stephen Fries, a nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for Economics in Washington DC and an associate fellow at Oxford University’s Institute for New Economic Thinking. “The pipeline from Azerbaijan to Europe is already operating at capacity. Algeria’s capacity to produce more natural gas is uncertain.”

As things stand Qatar exports over 70 percent of its LNG to Asian countries, locked into long-term contracts. With regard to Norway, the North Sea gas fields “are not depleted but they are not what they used to be”, Gross pointed out.  

In the long term, the ecological transition away from fossil fuels should mean that European countries will no longer want to buy large quantities of gas, with the EU promising to become net zero by 2050 – although whether that will be soon enough to help prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change is another matter entirely.

But this long-term paradigm shift complicates Europe’s bid for a short-term solution to its energy crisis. “The biggest challenge for Europe buying gas is that it’s not clear they will want it for long enough,” Gross put it. “These are multi-billion dollar contracts, and 10 to 15 years of using the gas is not a long enough payback period.

“I hear a lot about US gas supplies saving Europe or someone else saving Europe from its energy crisis – but there’s no one saviour,” Gross concluded. “It’s going to take a portfolio of capacities to replace a lot of gas they got from Russia. That means a lot sources, plus consuming less gas – plus the energy transition.”

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Will strikes force Macron to back down over France pension reforms?

France is seeing a wave of strikes against Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms on Thursday, as trains, flights, schools and even hospitals will be disrupted. Polls show a majority of the French oppose the president’s measures – and analysts say maintaining public support of strikes will be crucial to unions’ chances of forcing a U-turn. 

It is the moment everyone saw coming – the moment after Macron pushed ahead with pension reforms and France sees the huge industrial action it is (in)famous for.

The last time Macron wanted to change the pensions system, during the winter of 2019-2020, France saw its biggest strikes since 1968. Covid soon made that upheaval seem quaint, and prompted Macron to shelve his plans. But Macron was re-elected in April 2022 after promising to re-introduce these reforms, then put them to parliament earlier this month. And now the opposition appears to be even bigger than before: France’s biggest and most moderate major union, the CFDT, has joined the strike action after declining to act the previous time.

“Projections show there’ll be a huge number of people taking to the streets; 1 million to 1.5 million people, which the strike movement will be very pleased with,” noted Arnaud Benedetti, editor-in-chief of specialist French politics publication Revue politique et parlementaire.

‘They don’t want to change it’

Many polls have shown a majority of French oppose Macron’s proposals. The two main planks of the reform both go down badly: 66 percent oppose raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, while 60 percent oppose increasing the length of time paying into the system required for a full pension to 43 years, according to a survey by OpinionWay for Les Échos and Radio Classique.

“A lot of the public opposition comes from this persistent idea of a French model that has to be defended,” explained Paul Smith, a professor of French politics at Nottingham University. “It’s very difficult for the Macron government to get over that and point out that the retirement age is currently higher everywhere else – it doesn’t work because people think this is the French model, the French exception, and they don’t want to change it.”

“As well as the French attachment to the current system, the Macron government has made communication errors in trying to sell the reforms – inconsistencies in their justifications,” Benedetti added. “To start with, Macron said he was opposed to lengthening the amount of time people have to work, and of course changed his position on this. Then the government tried to legitimise the reforms by saying it would free up money for other parts of the public sector like education, before they switched to saying they’re needed to make the pensions system sustainable and thereby save it.”

The unions are hoping to pull off a repeat of what happened in 1995, when prolonged disruptive industrial action combined with broad public support to force then-president Jacques Chirac’s government to ditch pension reforms.

“The unions won in ’95 because they mobilised with massive public sympathy, and they know they need to do the same thing again if they want to win,” Smith put it.

So the big question is whether a majority of the French public would remain on the unions’ side during a protracted standoff with Macron’s government. The two other big factors determining which side will win, Benedetti noted, are “whether the union members have the means to carry on striking during a long standoff and the impact of the strikes on parliamentary politics”.

Macron lost his parliamentary majority in the legislative elections in June – complicating the bill’s passage. Luckily for Macron, France’s traditional conservative party Les Républicains (LR) have the numbers to get the bill through the National Assembly, and the party leadership is in favour.

This was by no means a given, however, seeing as many LR politicians are keen to emphasise their distinctiveness from Macron as he occupies their historic territory on the centre-right of the political spectrum – while LR’s recently elected hard-right leader Eric Ciotti sees himself as closer to far-right ex-presidential candidate Eric Zemmour than he is to Macron.

Nevertheless, LR and its ancestor parties under the likes of Chirac have longed envisaged reforming France’s pensions system in similar ways to Macron. President of the Senate Gérard Larcher, one of LR’s most influential grandees, has been particularly enthusiastic about Macron’s pension reforms – declaring that “even though they are unpopular, these reforms are essential”. Then Ciotti and his lieutenants met Macron’s Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne last week and said they were “listened to” after making demands in exchange for a deal, notably to fix the minimum monthly pension at €1,200. 

“Ciotti is mercurial, and many LR MPs don’t want to look too ‘Macron-compatible’, as they say,” Smith pointed out. “But the bottom line is that pensions reform is something they’ve historically supported, while there’s a general sense that giving Macron the support he needs makes them look important again instead of going up in smoke. And the Républicains in the Senate have been putting pressure on Républicains in the National Assembly to support the compromise struck with Borne. Gérard Larcher is the key figure here.” 

Public opinion to ‘determine’ MPs’ stances 

That said, LR support for the pension reforms is not guaranteed, especially if strikes stretch on for months and maintain broad public support. In the coming months, “LR behaviour will be determined by public opinion and what happens on the street”, Benedetti pointed out.

It is not just LR MPs Macron needs to keep onside. The president’s parliamentary bloc Ensemble owes its name to the French word for “together” – but in reality it is a heterogenous group of MPs ranging from the social democratic left to the neoliberal right. Several MPs on Ensemble’s left wing are sceptical of Macron’s pension reforms. One of the most prominent is Barbara Pompili, Macron’s environment minister from 2020 to 2022, who told BFMTV on Monday that she “couldn’t vote for the reforms at this stage”, saying that increasing the retirement age risks creating “social injustices”.

“Even now, it’s not at all sure that Macron can rely on Ensemble as the biggest party in the National Assembly to help get the reforms through,” Benedetti observed. “And as is the case for LR MPs and others, public opinion and the course of the strikes will determine the behaviour of those in Macron’s party.” 

The National Assembly is scheduled to start debating the pensions reform bill on February 6. Then the lower chamber and the Senate have until March 26 to both vote on it. If parliament rejects the legislation, Macron can always use Article 49.3, the Fifth Republic’s most controversial constitutional instrument. This allows the presidency to pass legislation without a parliamentary vote – although MPs can respond with a vote of no confidence, which if successful would shoot down the bill and the government with it, prompting fresh legislative elections. So far Borne has used it 10 times but over far less contentious matters.

“No president wants to use Article 49.3 unless they really have to,” Smith said. However, if Macron does deploy it, opposition MPs may well be reluctant to trigger new parliamentary polls: “Elections are what politicians hate most, because they’re unknowable.”

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Mother Russia: Maria Lvova-Belova, the Putin ally deporting Ukrainian children

Vladimir Putin’s “commissioner for children’s rights”, Maria Lvova-Belova, claims to be the “saviour” of children caught up in the war in Ukraine. Her compassionate rhetoric conceals a plan to deport Ukrainian children from territories occupied by Russia’s invading forces for adoption by Russian families.

A blonde woman in a floral dress kneels beside a teenage girl in a wheelchair. She helps a blind boy hang a garland on a Christmas tree. She hugs a huge teddy bear in the corridors of an airport as she welcomes a group of Ukrainian children arriving in Russia.

Maria Lvova-Belova, 38, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights since 2021, relentlessly flaunts her “good deeds” on her Telegram channel and on Russian state television.

Face of the forcible removal of Ukrainian children  

In her floaty dresses with high-buttoned collars, blonde hair swept neatly from her face, she looks every inch the demure and devout mother, coming to the rescue of children all over Russia and Ukraine.

Lvova-Belova has five biological children with her husband, a computer scientist turned Orthodox priest, and has adopted five more, including an Ukrainian teenager she adopted from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

She is also the legal guardian of 13 disabled children placed within charitable organisations she herself founded, some of which have been accused of misuse of funds in the Russian press. 

In Russia, where the birth rate is falling, Lvova-Belova’s large family, religious zeal and commitment to charitable works make her the ideal muse for both United Russia – Vladimir Putin‘s party – and for the Orthodox Church.  

In Ukraine, Lvova-Belova claims to be “saving” displaced or orphaned children but she plays a key role in their forcible removal to Russia.

She has organised the transfer of hundreds of Ukrainian children from their country’s occupied territories to the very country that is waging war on their homeland.

Thousands of Ukrainian children missing

Videos of children arriving in Russia fall in quick succession on her Telegram account.

Children from the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Donbas are welcomed by their “new families” with brightly coloured balloons and cuddly toys.

The children’s names are usually changed and they are given new Russian passports in exchange for their old identities.

Hundreds, or even thousands (it is difficult to establish the precise number) of Ukrainian children are being “sheltered” by Russia, thanks to her efforts, she proudly claims on social media and state television.

For Lvova-Belova prefers to use words like “rescue” instead of “deportation” and “guardianship” rather than “adoption”.

But in reality, children from orphanages, hospitals, social centres or foster homes in Ukraine’s occupied territories are being offered to Russian families along with payment by the Russian state.

The forced mass deportation of people during a conflict is classified by international humanitarian law as a war crime.

In a report published last November, Amnesty International said: “Russian authorities forcibly transferred and deported civilians from occupied areas of Ukraine in what amounted to war crimes and likely crimes against humanity”.

In December 2022, French association Pour l’Ukraine, pour leur liberté et la nôtre (“For Ukraine, for their freedom and ours”), asked the International Criminal Court to examine allegations of “genocide” amid the deportation of Ukrainian children.

Moscow has made no attempt to conceal its policy of child deportation. Removing Ukrainian children from occupied territories is part and parcel of the Kremlin’s propaganda, and in keeping with the “de-Ukrainisation” called for by Putin, who passed a law in May 2022 that made it easier for Russians to adopt Ukrainian children. It also made it harder for Ukrainian families to reclaim their kidnapped children.

In early December, Ukraine claimed that 13,000 children had been deported to Russia, adding that it was unlikely to be the “final figure”.

For its part, Russia says it has welcomed five million refugees from Ukraine.

Rehabilitation centres

The children’s “assimilation” in their adopted country takes place at “re-education” and “psychological rehabilitation” centres in Moscow, Rostov and Tuapse, a town on the northeast shore of the Black Sea. According to Belarusian state news agency Belta, roughly a thousand children from the Donbas, aged between six and 15, have been taken in by a centre in Belarus to allow them to “rest and recover”.

The children attending these centres receive both “care” and “daily lessons in Russian language and history”, Lvova-Belova tells her Telegram subscribers. Adaptation can sometimes take time, she explains. At first, she says, Filip, her adopted Ukrainian son, displayed “a certain negativity”. He insisted on singing the Ukrainian anthem and talking about his attendance at demonstrations in support of the Ukrainian military. But his behaviour has now changed and he is “grateful” to the “great Russian family” that saved him.

A dazzling career

The war in Ukraine has been a boon for Lvova-Belova’s career, allowing the former guitar teacher to continue her meteoric rise within Russia’s institutions.

In 2008, alongside her predecessor as children’s rights commissioner Anna Kuznetsova, she founded a charity called Blagovest in the Penza region 650 kilometres southeast of Moscow. The two women share common factors of being the mothers of several children and devout followers of the Orthodox Church. 

Following in Kuznetsova’s footsteps, she joined the ruling party, United Russia, in 2019.

From then on, her career took flight. After winning the prestigious “Leaders of Russia” competition in 2020, she was appointed a senator before being named children’s rights commissioner by Vladimir Putin at the end of Kuznetsova’s mandate.

No sign of stopping

The war in Ukraine has now put her firmly in the spotlight.

When she was sanctioned by the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom in September “for her alleged involvement in the forced transfer and adoption of Ukrainian children”, Putin himself sprang to her defence.

“This fragile woman is singlehandedly doing more for children and peace than those disgraceful Americans who  draw up lists of sanctions,” said the Russian president. 

And Lvova-Belova shows no sign of stopping.

After visiting each of the annexed regions this past autumn, she plans in 2023 to open “centres for adolescents” to “give them special attention”, and to deploy teams to reach out to “street children” in the occupied territories.

This article has been translated from the original in French. 

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‘Tirailleurs’: France’s forgotten colonial soldiers step out of the shadows

The last surviving African soldiers who fought for colonial-era France will be able to live out their final days in their home countries following the French government’s U-turn on their pension rights. The decision coincides with the cinema release of a film highlighting the untold sacrifices made by African “tirailleurs” on France’s battlefields during World War I.

In November 1998, just months after France’s multiracial football team lifted its first World Cup title, another legacy of the country’s colonial history passed away quietly in a faraway village north of Dakar, Senegal. 

Abdoulaye Ndiaye, who died aged 104, was the last of the tirailleurs, the African riflemen who fought for their colonial masters in the trenches of northern France during World War I. He died just one day before France’s then-president, Jacques Chirac, was due to decorate him with the Legion of Honour in belated recognition of his services. 

The failure to acknowledge Ndiaye’s sacrifice during his lifetime has stuck with French director Mathieu Vadepied ever since, inspiring a long-gestating project that has come to completion this week with the release in France and Senegal of his film “Tirailleurs” – whose English version is titled “Father & Soldier”. 

“It felt like a symbol of France’s failure to recognise the tirailleurs and tell their story,” said the director following his film’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year. 

Vadepied, who has travelled and worked in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa, said he felt a duty to exhume the history of the tirailleurs. His film is a tribute to the young men of Senegal and other French colonies who were snatched from their homes and forced to fight in a war that meant nothing to them for a “motherland” whose language most didn’t speak. 


While the film’s original title, “Tirailleurs”, or “riflemen”, has evocative power in French, its English version highlights the director’s concern to approach war through an intimate focus on a father’s relationship with the son he is desperate to protect. “Lupin” star Omar Sy plays a weary village farmer who enrols in the army to watch over his son after he is forcefully conscripted by the French. 

Vadepied stressed the importance of rooting his story in Senegal and keeping an intimate gaze on the film’s protagonists while giving war itself a distinctly unspectacular treatment. 

“We know the history of the war, but not that of the tirailleurs,” he said, highlighting cinema’s “mission to educate, to pass on stories and historical memories, while also interrogating the society we live in.” He added: “The story of France’s colonial troops needs to be recognised and told, to allow subsequent generations to identify with this history too.” 

As Sy, himself a son of Senegalese immigrants, told the audience at the Cannes premiere, “We don’t have the same (historical) memory, but we share the same history.” 

A decision long overdue 

In one of the film’s rare battle scenes, moments before the tirailleurs leap out of the trenches and charge into muddy no-man’s land, a French officer is pictured yelling: “After this battle, you will no longer be indigenous, you will be French!”  

It would take a full century for France to deliver on that promise. 

In April 2017, then-president François Hollande granted French citizenship to a first group of 28 former tirailleurs in a ceremony at the Élysée Palace, following a petition signed by more than 60,000 people, including Sy. The event was timed to coincide with the centennial of the Chemin des Dames, a gruesome battle in which more than 7,000 African soldiers perished in the fields of northern France. 

Six years on, the last surviving tirailleurs have won another battle in their decades-long quest for recognition, securing the right to live out their final days in their home countries – while continuing to receive their French pensions. 

>> France’s forgotten African war heroes finally given full pension rights

France’s former colonial troops were previously required to spend at least six months of the year living in France in order to qualify for a monthly payment of 950 euros ($1,000). The rule separated ageing former combatants from their families in Africa, leaving some to die alone, often in cramped quarters, away from their loved ones. 

The change of rule will apply to 37 former soldiers known to be living in France, said Aïssata Seck, a campaigner for the rights of the tirailleurs. She said news of the breakthrough might inspire more veterans to come forward, estimating the total number of surviving tirailleurs in France at “around 80”.  



Seck, whose grandfather was a tirailleur, expressed relief that the last of his comrades would “finally be able to return home and live out their lives with their wives, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren”.

France’s decision was long overdue, said the head of Senegal’s National Office for Veterans and Victims of War, in an interview with AP.  

“For a long time veterans have asked to return with their pensions but were not successful. This decision will relieve them. These veterans live alone in their homes, they are not accompanied, they live in extremely difficult conditions,” said Capt. Ngor Sarr, 85, who fought for the French military in Algeria and Mauritania and then moved to France in 1993 so he could receive his pension. He said he then lost it when he returned to Senegal 20 years later. 

‘Repair the injustice’ 

A product of France’s 19th-century colonial expansion in Africa, the tirailleurs were initially designed as a lightly-armed infantry corps deployed to harass enemy lines. The corps was expanded during World War I to bolster French troops on the Western Front, and eventually disbanded in the early 1960s.  

Over the two World Wars, some 700,000 soldiers from France’s African colonies fought for the colonial power. While some volunteered, others – like the son’s character in Vadepied’s film – were captured and forcibly enlisted. 

Historians estimate that around 30,000 African soldiers died in the trenches fighting for France during World War I. But their names never featured on the war memorials that grace towns and villages across the country, daily reminders of the cost of the conflict. 

The tirailleurs were a vastly enlarged force by the time Nazi Germany invaded France. They fought for Free French forces in sub-Saharan and North Africa and took part in the Allies’ landings in southern France in August 1944, precipitating the Nazis’ retreat.  

Months later, however, French troops at a barracks near Dakar opened fire on mutinous tirailleurs demanding back pay for years spent in prisoner-of-war camps. Dozens were killed in a massacre that was hushed for decades but is bitterly remembered in Senegal.



Hollande promised to “repair the injustice” on a trip to Dakar in 2014 – in line with tentative steps to acknowledge France’s debt towards its former colonial troops. Their sacrifice was honoured on Armistice Day last year during a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe attended by Aïssata Tall Sall, Senegal’s minister for foreign affairs and Senegalese abroad. 

Despite such gestures, more needs to be done to “give the tirailleurs visibility in the public space”, said Seck, whose campaign group has appealed to French mayors to name streets after France’s African soldiers.  

“The history of the tirailleurs is still insufficiently known,” she explained. “But things are starting to go in the right direction – slowly but surely.” 

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Trade expects Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus to open in double digits and even gain entry into the Rs. 100 crore club, despite underwhelming advance ticket sales :Bollywood Box Office – Bollywood Hungama

The last big film of 2022, Cirkus, is all set to be released on December 23. A lot of expectations are riding on this film as it reunites actor Ranveer Singh and director Rohit Shetty after the blockbuster Simmba (2018). Though the ticket sales haven’t been encouraging, the trade experts are hopeful that Cirkus can work big time, provided the audience gives the film thumbs up.

When asked about the advance booking, trade analyst Atul Mohan said, “The advance booking is not up to the mark. The trailer has not worked as intended.”

Trade veteran Taran Adarsh emphasized, “The advance is not in sync with the names attached to the film, be it Rohit Shetty or Ranveer Singh. The majority of Rohit’s films have worked. He’s a hit machine but somehow, the advance of this film hasn’t been too good. But then, the advances weren’t opened till the last minute for his last film, Sooryavanshi (2021). That film relied on spot bookings. It took a fantastic opening of Rs. 26.29 crores despite 50% occupancy. Rohit Shetty, hence, has a loyal audience and it can help the film to open well”

When asked the reason for not-so-good advance booking, Taran Adarsh answered, “There are multiple reasons. Firstly, the trailer invoked mixed reactions. The buzz that should have been created with the trailer was missing. Secondly, the Avatar wave is also there.”

Raj Bansal, the owner of Entertainment Paradise in Jaipur, agreed, “Avatar: The Way Of Water will definitely affect Cirkus. Its collections are excellent. To collect Rs. 125 crores in 3 days is a feat.”

Raj Bansal continued, “The advance is very poor as people haven’t been excited by the trailer.” Girish Johar, producer and film business analyst, opined, “The audiences were expecting a little more grandeur and larger-than-life scale as well as a laugh riot kind of stuff from Rohit Shetty. The ticket sales are a little underwhelming. But the advance booking usually picks up from Wednesday or Thursday. The same happened with Drishyam 2 as well.”

Price factor

The makers have adopted a unique price strategy for Cirkus. Film exhibitor and distributor Akshaye Rathi explained, “The three bands for the multiplexes are regular, premium and blockbuster. Cirkus rates are somewhere between regular and premium.”

He further explained, “The ticket prices are not in the blockbuster category as the film caters to the aam junta. The idea is to make it financially accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Having said that, it’s a premium product as it’s a Rohit Shetty movie. Rather than going for blockbuster rates, the pricing is between regular and premium so that the higher number of footfalls can be targeted rather than squeeze out more money from fewer number of people”

Raj Bansal believes such kind of pricing is a “mistake”. He opined, “One of the biggest reasons for Drishyam 2’s success is fair pricing. Also, the content was strong. No wonder the film became a blockbuster”

He continued, “Cirkus rates should have been at par with Drishyam 2Aap audience ko theatre mein aane toh do. So many people keep away from cinemas seeing the ticket rates.”

Trade expects Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus to open in double digits and even gain entry into the Rs. 100 crore club, despite underwhelming advance ticket sales

Opening day prediction

When asked to predict the opening day numbers, Raj Bansal said, “Rs. 8.50-9 crores. A double digit opening looks difficult. If reports are positive, we can expect spot bookings.”

Atul Mohan feels the first-day collection of Rs. 10 crores plus is still possible, “It all will depend on how the film is and public reports. If word of mouth is positive, it stands a huge chance.”

Taran Adarsh also agreed, “It should open at double digits as the film is riding on high expectations. If it doesn’t, then it’ll be a shocker.” Girish Johar, meanwhile, predicted that Crikus can open in the range of Rs. 12-15 crores.

All is not lost yet

The trade experts feel that the advance can still pick up, especially in the last 24 hours, translating into a healthy day 1 number. Taran Adarsh said, “There are 2-3 days remaining for the film to release. The advances can pick up but as of now, it’s not looking good.”

He also believes that Cirkus can see a huge jump on Saturday considering how last month, Drishyam 2 too jumped from Rs. 15.38 crores on day 1 to Rs. 21.59 crores on day 2. Taran Adarsh said, “It can jump on Saturday. In fact, I don’t rule out a huge turnout on day 1 also. Moreover, this is a festive week with Christmas Eve on Saturday and Sunday being the Christmas holiday. The holiday season continues till Sunday, January 1 not just in India but worldwide.”

Raj Bansal exulted, “The film can even jump 1 ½ time on Saturday if word of mouth is encouraging. Even Sunday can be strong, more so because it’s Christmas.”

Girish Johar also is kicked about Cirkus’s growth from day 2, more so after Drishyam 2’s trends. Moreover, with no major film releasing till Pathaan on January 25, Cirkus can get a clean five-week window. On this, Girish Johar cautioned, “Nowadays, it’s all about strong content. If the film works, then even 4 weeks are not sufficient and if it’s not good enough, then it’ll be out in a day. This dynamic has changed. Mediocrity is not working at the box office.”

Can Cirkus cross the Rs. 100 crores and Rs. 200 crores milestones?

When asked if Cirkus can get an entry into the Rs. 100 crore and Rs. 200 crore clubs, Atul Mohan said, “Why not? If word of mouth is positive, then anything is possible.” Taran Adarsh said he hopes to see Cirkus go past the Rs. 200 crore mark, “Ideally, it should. Sooryavanshi fell short of Rs. 200 crores but that was due to the pandemic restrictions”

Raj Bansal, however, predicted, “I have my doubts about Rs. 100 crores, looking at the advance trends.”

To conclude

Akshaye Rathi signed off on an optimistic note, “Cirkus is a film by Rohit Shetty, who caters to the lowest common denominator of the social strata, which is 80% of India’s audience. That is the audience that prefers to stand in serpentine queues outside the box office on the day of the release. I am pretty hopeful; in Rohit Shetty, we trust. Time and again, he has delivered at the box office irrespective of reviews and critical responses to his films. That man knows the pulse of India’s audience and I am pretty confident that this Friday, he shall deliver yet again with Cirkus.”

Also Read: Cirkus star Ranveer Singh reveals why he decided to work on his singing career

More Pages: Drishyam 2 Box Office Collection , Drishyam 2 Movie Review

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The European Parliament, a model of transparency tarnished after ‘Qatargate’ arrests

Shaken by accusations of corruption levelled against several of its legislators, the European Parliament – historically seen as a leader in transparency – is coming to terms with the arrests of several of its MEPs on suspicion of accepting bribes from Doha in exchange for defending Qatari interests in Strasbourg.

Allegations of corruption involving Vice President Eva Kaili along with five MEPs and parliamentary attachés, the European institution once seen as a leader in lobbying transparency has seen its image tarnished in recent days by a scandal dubbed “Qatargate”. 

“The European Parliament is committed to promoting transparency and ethics when it comes to lobbying activities,” reads its official website. It also states that “together with the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, it uses a common transparency register” to monitor the activities of “interest representatives”. Each institution has the option to take additional measures and MEPs are instructed to publish information regarding their communication with lobbyists.

Third countries are often not required to sign the transparency register

The EU transparency register records the actions of more than 12,000 lobbying groups whose objective is to influence public decisions made at the European level. They may act on behalf of consultancy firms, companies, trade unions, religious organisations or academic institutions. Representatives of local authorities and public bodies may also be involved.

This database also records the interests defended, the legislation and public policies targeted, and the budgets allocated.

All lobbyists must be registered before they can obtain accreditation to the European Parliament, be heard by a parliamentary committee, or meet with European Commissioners, members of their cabinets or directors of the Commission’s administration.

As parliamentarians must make note in their online diaries of all formal meetings with lobbyists, the European register, in theory, is aware of all meetings taking place between an elected representative and those representing special interests. This rule applies to committee chairmen, text rapporteurs and parliamentary group aides (only their staff members are exempted).

These transparency rules were put in place in the early 2000s. The European register, on the other hand, emerged in 2011 in the wake of the “fake lobbyists” scandal, when three MEPs were tricked by journalists from the British newspaper The Sunday Times into tabling amendments in exchange for bribes of up to €100,000.

Over the years, measures have been put in place to promote transparency, regulate conflicts of interest with MEPs and define relationships with lobbyists, says Cécile Robert, a professor at Sciences Po Lyon specialising in European institutions and politics.

Political scientist Olivier Costa wrote an opinion piece for La Tribune on Tuesday reminding readers that the European system is not without its flaws. “It is highly irregular that emissaries from third countries [countries outside of the EU defending their interests before the EU parliament] are not required to sign the transparency register, as all other people who plan to visit European institutions must do so,” writes the researcher, arguing for a necessary change in the way the European Parliament operates.

Permanent representations (embassies in Brussels, for example) are exempt from signing the European register, says Costa, a lobbying and regulations expert. Furthermore, other third countries like Qatar – which, just like other organisations representing interests, should technically be included in the transparency register – are also often let off the hook.  

These third countries fall under a special category in this register (open access). “Currently, there are only four entries, so only four lobbies [associated with third countries] are listed, which differs entirely from reality,” says Robert, adding that Qatar is not on this short list.

Meetings masquerading as diplomatic visits

As parliamentarians must be listed in the European register, they are not allowed to enter into dealings with states that don’t appear on the register. However, when a state representative and parliamentarian “meet within the context of diplomatic visits”, says Robert, “no declaration is necessary, because they are not lobbyists as such [according to the European definition]”.

For instance, if the vice-chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee meets with a public figure while on an official visit to a particular country, neither of them is required to sign the transparency register. A third country’s representatives must only register if they have come to Brussels to talk to an MEP in charge of a particular dossier and advocate for their country’s interests in relation to that dossier.

“In this case they are invited to sign the register, but as the register is not compulsory they can also dispense with it. It is up to the member of parliament, however – for whom signing is mandatory – to make the decision not to meet with them,” says Robert.

A lesson for every scandal

So are insufficiently restrictive regulations the problem? Yes, but not only, according to Robert. Other issues, such as “the way in which the rules governing MEPs’ code of conduct are structured, or the very limited resources allocated to security”, may have encouraged a scandal such as Qatargate.

Accepting money in exchange for a speech or adding an amendment to a European text (or even attempting to do so) has long been prohibited in the European Parliament, says Robert. “The rule is certainly insufficient in certain respects, but it was put in place after certain acts were committed. On the other hand, if there had been more security and means to check parliamentarians’ appointments, it might have been possible to limit certain interactions.”

Following a scandal of the magnitude of the one currently engulfing the European Parliament, the legislation will have to evolve.

Since 2011, “progress has been made, but at too slow a pace to circumvent the most unprincipled lobbyists and greediest MEPs”, writes Costa.

On Monday, French Social Democrat MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, chairman of the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all EU Democratic Processes, called for a committee of enquiry and a high authority tasked with ensuring transparency in public life at the European level, based on France’s HATVP, to be created. The HATVP is an independent French administrative authority responsible for ascertaining and preventing potential conflicts of interest among French public servants.

The “positive side” to these scandals, Robert says, is that they are an opportunity for strengthening the rules. “This will inevitably lead to more supervision, transparency, and efforts to make these practices compatible with the exercise of democracy,” she says.

This article has been translated from the original in French.

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Biodiversity: ‘A victim of global warming and one of the major tools to fight against it’

After the COP27 climate conference, representatives from around the world gathered in Montreal this week for the COP15 meeting dedicated to biodiversity. Scientists say leaders face a crucial challenge: agreeing on a common way forward to safeguard biodiversity by 2030 in order to preserve plant and animal life and help combat climate imbalance. 

Wildlife populations have fallen by 69 percent globally in the past 50 years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in an October 2022 report. At the same time, land degradation – including deforestation, soil erosion and loss of natural areas – now affects up to 40 percent of the Earth’s land and half of humanity, according to the UN. These alarming figures are the backdrop for the COP15 conference on biodiversity that began on December 7 in Montreal with an ambitious objective: to agree a new global framework for safeguarding the natural world. 

“The stakes are crucially high: we are currently living through a biodiversity crisis,” says Philippe Grandcolas, entomologist and research director at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). “Biodiversity is essential to human survival. It ensures that we can feed ourselves, have access to drinking water, and it plays a major role in our health. But, above all, biodiversity plays an indispensable role in the stability of the planet.” 

At present, 70 percent of ecosystems around the world are in a state of degradation, largely due to human activity – a rate of decline described as “unprecedented and dangerous” by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 

In addition, more than 1 million species are threatened with extinction. Vertebrates, which include mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians and make up five percent of all animal species, are especially under threat. “Our previous report found that there had been a 68 percent fall among the total [vertebrate] population [over 50 years],” says Pierre Cannet, director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF France. In 2022 that figure has risen to 69 percent. “Losing one percent in two years is massive. For species that already have small populations, it could mean extinction.”

Climate imbalance: A growing threat 

According to the IPBES, the most significant driving factor of the ”biodiversity crisis” is change in how land is used and fragmentation of natural space, most often due to agriculture. This is followed by overfishing, hunting and poaching. There is a tie for third place between climate imbalance, pollution and invasive species. 

“In the majority of cases there are multiple factors at play,” says Grandcolas. “But climate imbalance is becoming the most significant threat. The more it escalates, the more it disturbs ecosystems and has an impact on flora and fauna.” 

There are plenty of examples of this impact. In the past 30 years elephant populations in African forests have fallen by 86 percent. The main causes are poaching and black market trade, causing the death of 20,000 to 30,000 elephants per year, according to the WWF. But repeated cycles of drought and flood are also having an impact on access to fresh water – a vital resource for the species as each animal consumes around 150 to 200 litres per day. Without it their survival is at risk. 

Similarly, leatherback sea turtles in Suriname have seen their populations fall by 95 percent in 20 years. This is due in part to destruction of their habitat caused by human intervention and illegal fishing. But climate instability is also disrupting their reproduction rates as sea level rise has destroyed and disrupted turtle nesting beaches. 

A leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) digging a nest on the beach in Trinidad. © Konrad Wothe, WWF

Mass deaths 

“Currently there are a few species that are classed having climate change as the reason for their extinction,” says Camille Parmesan, research director at CNRS and author of the first report of its kind on the links between climate change and biodiversity, produced by IPBES and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2021. Yet this is the reason for the demise of the Bramble Cay melomys: “a species of little rodent that lived on the small islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Scientists proved that their disappearance was due to their habitat being submerged [by the sea],” Parmesan says.

“We have also noted the disappearance of 92 amphibian species, killed by the growth of a type of fungus. We have proof that it developed due to climate instability which modified ecosystems and created the right conditions for it to thrive.” 

The number of species that are officially classed as having died out due to climate instability may be low, but increasing extreme weather events are causing mass deaths among mammals, birds, fish and trees. “In Australia, we counted 45,000 flying fox deaths [a type of bat] in a single day during a heatwave”, Parmesan says. In France, record summer heat in 2022 caused temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea to rise to levels that killed thousands of fish and shellfish. 

>> Biodiversity: Ocean ‘dead zones’ are proliferating due to global warming

Yet, disappearing species is not the only consequence of climate change. “We can also add behaviour changes, notably migrations induced by climate modifications,” Parmesan adds. “Certain species try to move to [new] habitats that are more favourable but this can cause even more disruption in ecosystems.” 

Biodiverse carbon storage 

Shrinking biodiversity also has multiple consequences on human life. In some parts of the world it can disrupt economies reliant on fishing or hunting and negatively impact the tourism industry. 

“It’s a vicious circle. Biodiversity is a victim of global warming, but it is also one of the major tools to fight against it”, says Sébastien Barot, researcher at French public research institution Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD).  

From plant life to animal species, individual elements of the natural world all contribute to regulating and supporting the environment as a whole. Bardot says, “water and earth play a role in filtering pollution, and bumblebees are essential for plant reproduction”.

But when one element is compromised the rest can suffer too. “The survival of the planet depends on a fine balance,” says Grandcolas. “Imagine a group of frogs suddenly die in a habitat. As insignificant as that may seem, it will have an impact: by disappearing they modify the conditions of the environment. This could allow other species to develop, damage plant life and lead to progressive destruction of the ecosystem, which will then no longer be able to play its role as a climate regulator.” 

Nowhere is this more evident that with carbon storage. Scientists estimate that the earth and sea currently absorb almost 50 percent of C02 created by human activity.  “Forests, wetlands, mangrove swamps and even deep water are real C02 sinks. When they disappear, emissions are released into the atmosphere,” Barot says.  

Consequently, “when we see a forest burn, we are watching a carbon sink disappear”, says Grandcolas. In this way, “[the presence of] plant life has an obvious impact on the climate.” 

Two crises, one solution? 

Experts agree on the need to tackle both the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis at the same time. “We tend to treat them as separate entities, but they go hand in hand,” says Grandcolas. “They should be seen as a joint struggle with equal importance. For this to happen, we need to give nature the space it deserves.” 

Scientists and the WWF have called for more nature-based solutions for both issues. One of the most prominent is increasing protected habitats, which currently make up 17 percent of land and eight percent of ocean globally. “We need to increase that to 30-50 percent of the planet,” says Grandcolas. A significant step towards this goal, he adds, would be better global policies for fighting deforestation as preserving forests has the potential to both protect biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

“There are also many things to consider in terms of agriculture,” says Barot. “We need agriculture systems that are more durable such as developing agroecology and agroforestry. We can improve how cultivated land is managed and limit use of fertilizer … which would help both biodiversity and the climate.”

“Protection alone is no longer enough; 70 percent of land is now in a degraded state,” Parmesan adds. “It is essential to put stronger policies in place for restoring ecosystems. That would enable us to recreate habitats for animals and plants, and the climate benefits would follow.” For this to be successful a holistic approach is needed. “There’s no point planting trees purely to compensate for carbon emissions,” Parmesan says. “It needs to be done with respect for balance in the ecosystem. Big plantations filled with monocultures are not good for biodiversity or for the climate because they are more vulnerable to climate risks.” 

The three scientists estimate that nature-based solutions could provide around a third of necessary climate mitigation measures even if other steps, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, must come from changes in human behaviour. 

Many such solutions are up for discussion at the COP15 biodiversity conference. Even so, other issues – namely money – may dominate. Supported by 22 other countries, Brazil has requested that rich nations provide “at least $100 billion per year until 2030” to developing countries in order to finance nature protection initiatives. The request is yet to receive a response.  

This article was adapted from the original in French

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