We are a nature-based carbon capture and utilisation company and our work involves working very closely with nature. So it is essential for us to first define our approach if we are to successfully tap into the ecosystem that nature has built around us. But first, we need to redefine our relationship with nature.
Natural resources are resources that exist without any actions of humankind. We didn’t do anything to make them, but we depend on them for our very existence. Over the thousands of years of human civilisation, we have used them for everything we need. Food, water, habitat and energy, all came from them.
When the industrial revolution gave us the tools and technology to exploit them to a much larger extent, we didn’t change our approach. Natural resources remained a thing for us to use, without having to do anything to grow preserve them. This fed directly into the human trait of greed. Colonial nations became global competitors for natural resources, eating them up before anyone else could. We didn’t stop to consider that these are finite resources, that if you eat up the Earth, where would you live?
Our current relationship with natural resources is a product of our thinking that has remained the same through the millennia. We look at natural resources as a free lunch, provided by nature to feed our needs.
Mathematics has a unique ability to express complex ideas into simple language. Up until now, we have carved natural to fulfil our needs. This can no longer go on. We need to come up with another equation if we are to survive climate change without unprecedented human suffering.
Our work centres around forests so this article will focus on them, a critical human resource essential for human survival. We have developed a love hate relationship with forests, thanks to our faulty approach.
At one level, forests have become a luxury commodity. Our only interaction with forests is as tourists or nature lovers. Only those who can afford it can use forests for recreation. A rice farmer, on the other hand, has no time to admire a sunset or a landscape. For him, the forest is where the firewood and building materials come from. His goats and cattle graze there. His family lives off the forest.
And then we have the owners of the lands forests stand on, the governments and policymakers that protect forests. For them, it is taboo to touch any forest resources. As a fourth stakeholder, we have us, the corporate sector that is socially responsible and wants to invest in lasting solutions for climate change and associated issues.
How do we reconcile the interests of everyone while protecting and growing forests? By bringing everyone to the table as equal partners. But we will not be able to do this without changing our equation with forests.
Unless we grow renewable natural resources to match human needs, we will not be able to achieve an ecological balance needed to combat both climate change as well as environmental degradation. The right approach is to treat forests as banks of wealth that need to grow with human needs. If we look at forests as multipliers of wealth, we can solve several problems facing us:
But if we are to approach forests as multipliers of wealth, we need to build business models around forests that not only sustain and use them, but also generate surplus that can grow more forests. This can only happen when all stakeholders are brought together.