Last week, Jamison Ervin, the manager of the Nature for Development global program, met with lawmakers of the House Committee on Environment and Energy to promote a “global deal for nature” aimed at preventing a “polycrisis” of environmental disasters.
Ervin has worked for the United Nations for 14 years. Her background also includes work with World Wild Life Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and other environmental institutions. In Vermont her work also includes involvement with the Waterbury Local Energy Action Partnership as well as the Duxbury Select Board, Land Trust, and Planning Commission.
“We are using more nature, we are harvesting more than can be replenished,” Ervin told lawmakers, adding that societies face a range of devastation if corrective action is not taken.
“These risks, climate failure, biodiversity loss, they have a cascade of impacts around the world including natural resources crisis, immigration, disease,” she said.
Ervin said it all ads up to a “polycrisis” — “multiple, interlinked global emergencies” involving climate, water, food, natural disasters, health, and biodiversity.
A main problem, she argued, is that the clearing of forests and other natural habitats accounts for 24% of human carbon emissions. As a remedy, and in keeping with the “global deal for nature,” she recommends preserving at least one-third of Vermont from development.
Ervin also cited the 2022 Global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. Part of the 2022 plan includes that each nation should maintain about a third of its land at any given time under “effective restoration measures” and “effectively protected.” She said New York, California and Maine have already taken actions at the state level to attain that goal, and noted that Vermont has this objective written in to its Climate Action Plan.
While she generally approved of Vermont’s current handling of land use, she took aim at the state’s forestry industry.
“Vermont’s state management plans do not prioritize maintaining mature, intact forests for their carbon sequestration value,” Ervin said, noting that over the next eight years the state intends to triple its logging operations.
“Moreover we do not have the tools on private lands to ensure the protection of 10% of forests, or to allow them to grow old and fulfill their role in Vermont’s climate plans,” she added.
Agenda items for lawmakers
Her recommendations included a legal mandate to protect 30% of land from development, a ban on logging in Vermont state parks, and incentives for private landowners to maintain their forests.
Watch Ervin’s testimony before the committee here online.