Picture of E.O. Wilson One of the great ecologists of the 20th century wrote a little book in which he challenge a Christian pastor about the importance of saving the earth. New Development represents our response to that challenge (there are others). He proposed a historic partnership between scientists and religious leaders to preserve Earth's rapidly vanishing biodiversity. But more than that, E.O. Wilson has also thrown the "half-earth" challenge before conservationists... he realized that about 85% of our current species can be saved from extinction, if 50% of all land area is protected from further habitat degradation. Although this vision has been challenged as unrealistic and inhumane, this would only be true if "wilderness" is understood as areas that are totally uninhabited by any humans. However, while we agree that true wilderness exists, (defined as areas where humans have so little impact that they have the same ecological impact as if they have never been there), we do not agree that the half-earth vision implies that all protected areas need to be "wilderness". Instead, we argue for the extention of currently protected areas through the use of voluntary conservancies and wildlife corridors, in which the land is managed with maximum biodiversity as one of its aims. Although not easy, we do believe that with this perspective it is possible to aim for half of the earth's land area to be protected. As a Christian organization in Africa, we accept the challenge for Africa, starting in the South, all the way back to Jerusalem.

Followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ inviting others to follow Him

Picture of the earth About 2000 years ago, a man called Yeshua, from Natzeret in the Galil, said the following to his followers, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make people from all nations into disciples, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age." (Matt.28:18-20) and "But you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will be my witnesses both in Yerushalayim and in all Yehudah and Shomron, indeed to the ends of the earth!" (Acts 1:8) They started in Jerusalem, in Judea, and today, almost 2000 years later, their message had spread through most of the world. Thus was fulfilled an ancient prophecy: "For out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of Adonai from Yerushalayim. (Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:2) and "He has said, 'It is not enough that you are merely my servant to raise up the tribes of Ya'akov and restore the offspring of Israel. I will also make you a light to the nations, so my salvation can spread to the ends of the earth.'" (Isaiah 49:6).

One of these commands that Yeshua taught his disciples (and which they were to teach the nations to obey) was, "Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah - not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19). The very first command recorded in the Torah was, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (Genesis1:26-28) and "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and guard it." (Genesis 2:15). The message of Yeshua centered on the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, not through violence, but by changing people's hearts (Mark 1:14-15, Daniel 7:13-14). Through the work of his Spirit in our lives we are being changed into fit citizens of his Kingdom on earth, here and now, but also for the future (Romans 8:1-29).

The Good News of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15) has spread all the way from Jerusalem to the Southern end of Africa. However, while the number of Christians in Africa has grown and are still growing South of the Sahara, people's lives in general are still largely captive to their old ways of thinking and living. The major impacts of poaching (including the use of animal parts for muti), overgrazing and many ongoing wars, testify to this. There is a real need for spiritual renewal and true discipleship in many parts of Africa. It is time for the Good News of the Kingdom to be taken back to Jerusalem, the city over which Yeshua cried (Luke 19:41-44, Matthew 23:37-39).

The major threat to most species is habitat destruction and degradation. This is why we aim mainly at protecting habitats, but also at conserving top predators, since only a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem can support top predators. Elsewhere we discuss why biodiversity is important from a common sense perspective. What is clear, is that a major reason why rational people still destroy the creation of God, is because destroying so often bring short-term profits, while many biodiversity benefits only become visible in the long run. Our inherent selfishness ensure that we will on average put our own self-interests above everything and every-one else. Jesus came to teach and show us a different way... ultimately to free us from the bondage of selfishness. He came to proclaim the Kingdom, the rulership, of God on earth, that the earth belongs to the Lord. This implies that the original creation purpose for mankind, to rule over the living creatures, manage the earth, work and protect the earth, is to be restored. And we are given the command to teach disciples from all nations to obey everything that Jesus has commanded us. Because we realize that the only power strong enough to change people's hearts, is the Good News of the Kingdom of God being established on earth through his Holy Spirit, we are actively involved in making disciples. This is why we partner with various local churches and use wilderness camps to expose young people (and older people who are interested) to the wonders and beauty of creation. Our get involved page has more on how you can be involved in this aspect of the work.

However, we also realize that not all people will become followers of Yeshua, and so we also appeal to their basic self-interest. The compartementalized life of most people today, as we become specialists and loose contact with where our everyday commodities come from, is a major cause of the disconnect between people and nature. Few (if any) city people enjoying a steak, have ever been to an abattoir or even to a farm where the cattle were bred and cared for before being slaughtered. Or been to a dairy farm to see where their milk and dairy products come from. In the final instance almost everything we eat, is the product of agriculture and we cannot eat money or technology or the products of mining and heavy industry. In many parts of the world, farmers are in control of most of the land. One of the main reasons to conserve biodiversity from a farmer's perspective, is that biodiverse ecosystems are more stable and thus more sustainable in the long run. The current Farming with Predators project is just one of our projects addressing this, helping livestock farmers to farm more sustainably.

But possibly an even stronger motive is given by the realization that hidden within the great biodiveristy of creation, is the genius of design. And these ingenious designs can provide us with practical solutions to engineering problems, engineering problems that in turn can put money in our pockets. But in order to study and learn from nature, we have to ensure that there is something to study. And it is not only the individual species and their survival that counts, but even all the ecological interactions can give us important insights. This is our primary motive for using biomimetics in our hardware development projects and consulting.

One important objection against the half-earth vision, is that establishing protected areas (so-called wilderness areas) all too often involves the expulsion of native tribes who have been living off the land for ages. For this reason, we believe that disciplemaking also involves learning and a culturally sensitive approach (as demonstrated by the first disciples in the Bible). A disciple is a student, an apprentice, of Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua haMashiach). Like biomimetics, indigenous knowledge is still a largely untapped resource. Teaching people to value this knowledge and market it in the global economy, is an important step in both preserving the knowledge and stimulating economic growth. It has been shown as a biological principle, that higher survival rates of children eventually lead to lower population growth rates... thus economic growth also impact population growth and ultimately habitat destruction. Read our mission for a more complete explanation of why we do things the way we do.

In his excellent book, Sustainable Energy - without the hot air, David MacKay shows that the largest single use of energy (and thus the major source of greenhouse gasses in our current energy economy), is transport. For this reason it makes sense that an important part of "green technology" solutions should focus on transport solutions. See our projects for more on this. The need for marketing of conservation projects as a means of getting funding is also emphasized by Smith et al 2010. This is an important current gap in the approach of many conservation projects that we would like to address.


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