How can communities sustainably protect, manage, and restore their local ecosystems?
Functioning ecosystems underpin all of human society. They are crucial to pollination, wild food sources, disaster mitigation, and a stable climate with breathable air and an active water cycle, in addition to the intangible cultural value tied to land. Yet, humans have degraded over 75 percent of the Earth’s land area, and 35 percent of fish stocks are over harvested. With restoration and better management, ecosystems can thrive and provide greater benefits, including up to one third of the carbon mitigation necessary for a 2 degree global warming target.
Many examples of successful ecosystem management exist at the project or community level globally, particularly those that draw on Indigenous knowledge and traditional practices. However, many of these approaches face challenges in sustaining and scaling their impact. Technology and innovation can help improve efficiency, replicate good models, and ensure communities gain durable sources of funding, land rights, and data sovereignty.
The MIT Solve community is looking for technology-based solutions that help communities restore, sustain, and benefit from resilient ecosystems. To that end, Solve seeks solutions that:
Preserve and restore carbon-rich ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots, whether terrestrial, coastal, or marine.
Provide scalable and verifiable monitoring and data collection to track ecosystem conditions, such as biodiversity, carbon stocks, or productivity.
Aggregate local projects to enable access to financial capital for ecosystem services such as natural hazard mitigation, water quality, and carbon storage.
Create scalable economic opportunities for local communities, including fishing, timber, tourism, and regenerative agriculture, that are aligned with thriving and biodiverse ecosystems