Apple has partnered with the nonprofit Conservation International to help restore degraded African grasslands.
According to a new report from Fast Company, the two organizations are working together with local partners on the ground in the Chyulu Hills in Kenya to implement new ideas about how to fight the effects of climate change on the area.
“By restoring tens of thousands of hectares in the Chyulu Hills, we can remove carbon from the air, protect a critical wildlife corridor for elephants, and support the livelihoods of the Maasai people,” says Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives.
According to Fast Company, the grasslands at the foot of the hills, along with similar rangelands across Africa, have the potential to capture huge amounts of CO2.” However, as the landscape has been degraded by unsustainable land use, the soil has been left unable to sequester as much carbon, leading to problems for both the local Maasai herders and local wildlife.
While restoration projects tend to focus on replanting, Apple and its partners are taking a different approach: social intervention.
“Direct planting work is very expensive,” says Nikola Alexandre, a restoration fellow at Conservation International. “But when you work instead with local communities, you find actions that they can carry out that improve their well-being and the well-being of the ecosystem. It’s kind of a win-win solution for everyone. It is likely that climate change is going to radically change the nature of that ecosystem. So what we’re trying to do is use restoration to make that ecosystem more resilient to climate change as much as we possibly can.”
If successful, this new approach could demonstrate how to put tens of thousands of hectares under restoration at a fraction of the cost of past methods, while improving the well-being of thousands of Maasai. The approach could also potentially serve as a model for restoring communal rangeland across Africa and demonstrate how to fight climate change while supporting rural livelihoods in a changing world.
Jackson concluded that Apple is putting an equal effort into both combatting climate change and product development.
“Tackling the global climate challenge requires everyone to act with a fierce urgency,” Jackson says. “At Apple, we’re bringing the same focus we have for creating innovative and groundbreaking products to creating climate solutions.”