Sustainability has for long been heralded as the way forward in our journey towards a society where humans and nature are in harmony. The challenge with the term sustainable is that it only implies not doing worse. At a time where we as humans have already done so much damage to both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, sustainability is no longer enough. We need to not only sustain but instead improve and enhance the way we steward the land. This is where conservation, restoration and regenerative comes into the picture. All imply something different than sustainability, but even between these terms, there is a big difference in the outcome.
Conservation is about protecting what is so that it is not destroyed. This is what we think of when we want to protect the Amazon rain forest or the Great Barrier Reef. In some sense conservation is similar to sustainability, the difference is that conservation implies a pristine state, to begin with, sustainability does not. So even though both are working on securing a status quo, when it comes to sustainability, the status quo can be quite bad.
Restoration seeks to bring back something that once was, the return to a pristine state or reestablishment of something that aspires to the pristine state.
Regeneration looks beyond the pristine state. It sees nature and human culture as two sides of the same coin. It does not seek to return to or conserve a pristine state. Instead, it seeks to further enhance human culture without ruining nature. So compared to conservation and restoration there is no end state. In that sense regeneration is more about the process of regeneration.
In the context of agroforestry
Regenerative and conservation agroforestry is not to be seen as an alternative to wild nature, but in some regions, it is more viable because it gives farmers an incentive to not cut down trees which might cause further soil erosion and desertification?!
Example with africa and deforestation – Both conservation (Bees) and restoration (eGro desertification)