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Protecting native Atlantic forests with music: Dr Sandra Goded at the COP25 meeting in Madrid, Spain

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

                                          by Sandra Goded

Last week I participated in the COP25 meeting that took place in Madrid, Spain. There, I presented the project that I run with my NGO "Quercus Sonora" aimed towards the protection of native forests in North-West Spain and their depending biodiversity at a roundtable about land stewardship initiatives all over Spain. At the roundtable, I explained that I have been dedicated to the protection of native Atlantic forests through my NGO Quercus Sonora since 2007, with which we are now protecting 5 ha of native forests both relict and restored. We use the tool of land stewarship, both buying lands with the economic help of more than a hundred members, and creating a web of protected lands that are handed over by their owners for us to protect and manage their forests sustainably, all aimed at the protection of native forests, which are daily being cut and replaced by Eucayptus plantations. We also organise many environmental education activities both for children and adults in order to create awareness about the importance of forest conservation and the biodiversity that depends on them. In addition, we use classical music to earn money for the protection of forests through an anual chamber music festival. The protection and restoration of native forests is known to be the best way to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, and their replacement by Eucalyptus plantations lowers the absorbion of CO2 40 times (Lewis et al., 2019). Therefore, the protection and restoration of native forests is crucial to mitigate climate change, as well as to ensure the conservation of forest bird specialists related to them.

Although COP25 Madrid was only organised in three weeks, people from all over the world were there, giving many interesting talks about the effects of climate change all over the world and the solutions to mitigate it. The presence of young children participtaing in the movement Fridays for Future all over the world, and indigenous people from the Amazon that are hardly suffering from the consequences of climate change were the most emotional moments at the COP25. However, being there made me think that only the most privileged ones could be there, and that most of the people living the worst consequences of climate change could not be heard. In addition, the presence of politicians in these open presentations and meetings was very poor, as the politicians´ meetings were held at a separated building than the rest of the presentations. Therefore, my general impression is that, although, there were numerous interesting talks and presentations that took place at COP25 in Madrid during those days, most of them might have not been heard by the society and taken into account by people in power in order to promote a more sustainable way of living towards the mitigation of climate change and its detrimental effects for both humans and all living beings. In addition, the fact that the most important spanish electric company was the main financial body of COP25 in Madrid feels to me, to say the least, quite shocking. I do not think there are many companies with higher environmental impact tan that one, but still, it was advertised everywhere around COP25.

Finally, although during the time COP25 was taking place in Madrid, there was a continuous wave of news and discussions about climate change all over the country during those days, the daily routines and people´s awareness about their individual effects on climate change have not change, and people seem not to be consciuos that their actions are the most important causes of climate change, and that reducing consumption is the only way to mitigate it. After COP25 has finished, people just want to continue with their way of living as long as they are allowed to, and only expect politicians to agree and make a change, which may never happen, but they do not want to change anything themselves. The only real changes, though, come from the base of society, from every single person, every single day.

Lastly, one last point, during those days, it seemed that people gave more importance to who Greta Thunberg is, taking her as a new model to look at, critisice or give opinions on, as if she was an actress or model, instead of listening to what she is saying, and trying to be consequent in our dialy rountines as she has done. It seems to me that, in general, more importance has been given to WHO says something, than WHAT he/she is saying or doing.

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