Biodiversity is the Living Foundation for Sustainable Development

By Terry Mock
Follow Terry on Twitter: @SustainLandDev

Terry Mock in the national champion Green Buttonwood tree in Palm Beach, FL.

It is the combination of life forms, and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment, that have made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity — the variability within and among living organisms and the systems they inhabit — is the foundation upon which human civilization has been built. In addition to its intrinsic value, biodiversity provides goods and services that underpin sustainable development in many important ways. First, it supports the ecosystem functions essential for life on Earth, such as the provision of fresh water, soil conservation and climate stability. Second, it provides products such as food, medicines and materials for industry. Third, biodiversity is at the heart of many cultural values.

At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy for “sustainable development” — meeting our needs while ensuring that we leave a healthy and viable world for future generations. One of the key agreements adopted at Rio was the Convention on Biological Diversity.

This pact among the vast majority of the world’s governments set out commitments for maintaining the world’s ecological underpinnings as we go about the business of economic development. The convention established three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. In 2002, 10 years after the Convention on Biological Diversity was opened for signature, the parties involved developed a strategic plan to guide further implementation at the national, regional and global levels. The purpose is to effectively halt the loss of biodiversity so as to secure the continuity of its beneficial uses through the conservation and sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Of all life forms, plants are the primary source of energy in the biosphere and are, therefore, the basis of all life on land and in water. Forest biodiversity may be the richest of all terrestrial systems. Together, tropical, temperate and boreal forests offer diverse sets of habitats for plants, animals and microorganisms, holding the vast majority of the world’s terrestrial species. To destroy such an essential resource appears to be madness, yet in meeting important human needs, forest trees have been plundered on a global scale. The retention and management of plant diversity is urgently needed in order to build “designer ecosystems” that will replicate the natural systems that have evolved over 4 billion years on this planet and that create the very conditions for life to exist. Given that biodiversity also includes genetic differences within each species, it is critically important that genetics from endangered and superior specimen old growth trees be preserved now, while these unique organisms are still alive.

At Champion Tree Project International, protection, propagation, and planting of clonal materials from the largest and oldest trees in the world are our goals.

Republished from March, 2005 issue of Land Development Today magazine.

Sustainable Land Development Initiative

For the latest SLDI tweets, click here.

The 21st century will overturn many of our previously-held assumptions about civilization. The challenges and opportunities land development stakeholders now face – to fulfill the needs of society and achieve a favorable return on investment without harming the environment – have vast implications on the sustainability of our communities around the world.

SLDI - Sustainable Land Development Initiative is a stakeholder social media association now positioned to help transform the industry that creates the very infrastructure of our civilization. SLDI is dedicated to delivering sustainable land development technology and knowledge resources to promote and enable fully integrated sustainable land development worldwide.

How do we develop a sustainable civilization?
By delivering the "holy grail of sustainable decision making" - a universal geometrical algorithm that balances the needs of people, planet and profit - The SLDI Code™
The World’s First Sustainable Development Decision Model is symbolized as a geometrical algorithm that balances and integrates the triple-bottom line needs of people, planet and profit into a holistic, fractal model that becomes increasingly detailed, guiding effective decisions throughout the community planning, financing, design, regulating, construction and maintenance processes while always enabling project context to drive specific decisions.

2400 Green Street, Suite 201
Dubuque, IA 52001

SLDI Co-founders:
Terry Mock
Tony Wernke

Read The Fractal Frontier - Sustainable Development Trilogy.
Read Developing a Sustainable Endgame for the Global Economy
See history and evolution of SLDI @ SLDI Foundational Articles

18 responses

  1. I would like some intelligent conversations around this. So far, have not seen any. Feel the propaganda for “saving” the eco system, at the cost of human life, (as with those dying from malaria in Africa), is long over due to be addressed. I know they banned DDT 40 years ago. I have since found and viewed the documentary that shows that DDT is SAFE for humans and environment alike. Only thing it kills is blood sucking insects. However, we have been programmed for so long to accept the lies, that the truth will not be heard .. even tho there is plenty of evidence to show it. All I see is folks repeating the same materials that were used to cover up the truth about it 40 years ago. It was hard for me to be open about it I was in support of the ban. But come on folks, we have to start waking up to Truth .. the lies are going to wipe out humanity .. and the insects will not testify that everything is great!

  2. Why an eccentric band of tree lovers is cloning an ancient forest

    Globe and Mail
    Aug. 19, 2011

    Are they intuitive saviours of the planet as it moves through climate change, ahead of science? Or evidence of the anti-reason, post-Enlightenment age in which we live, a merry tribe of enviro-nuts in the forest?

    In any case, they’re bringing attention to trees – a ubiquitous presence treated with the kind of lazy disregard the rich might show to loyal servants. Such a lack of appreciation is perilous, experts say. Not only are trees crucial ecosystem-filtering agents, forests provide numerous health benefits for humans, some of which are only now being scientifically proven. And there’s “huge uncertainty” in the global forestry community about their ability to survive the predicted rapidity of climate change in their fragmented and degraded state…


    Designer Ecosystems & Charismatic Megaflora


    SLDI Champion Tree Planting

    The Osceola County branch of the Boys and Girls Club planted a sapling with the genetics of a champion in celebration of Earth Day…

    Tappan Tree Farm in Duette, Florida donated the tree, in partnership with the nonprofit organization, Sustainable Land Development International, and the Destiny project. The sapling tree is a genetic clone of a “champion tree,” which indicates the largest identified tree of the each species in the nation. The “mother” of the Boys and Girls Club’s new tree was discovered and preserved in a real estate development just north of Tampa.

    “This is actually a rooted cutting from that mother national champion female dahoon holly,” Terry Mock, executive director for the nonprofit, said. “So the exact genetics of the mother tree now exist in this tree. Technically, scientifically, botanically, it is the same tree.”

    “A big part of the solution in achieving sustainability is to rebuild our forests and why not start with the genetics of the old growth superior trees?” he said. “The program has been more popular up north. We’re trying to stimulate more interest here in Florida because we’ve got more species here than any other state in the country. If nothing else, we’re preserving the genetics for future research.”

    Virtually no research has been done on the genetics of trees, which are very complicated, as trees have been around for hundreds of millions of years longer than humans have, Mock said…

    1. UPDATE:

      Ancient Trees of the Future –

      TEDxTalks on Dec 2, 2011

      David Milarch is co-founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive and a pioneer in the cloning of trees. He works to preserve the genetic heritage of the world’s last old growth forest giants. A fourth generation nurseryman from Michigan, he and his sons have propagated more than 90 species, including the tallest redwoods.

      Talk: David Milarch, co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, tells the story of the work of cloning ancient tress and explores the relationship we have lost between our planet, the climate and the forests, as well as what is left that can be utilized in a new approach.

  3. The Detroit News (Front Page)
    September 7, 2013
    A savior of tree species: Life’s mission inspired by angel

    Copemish – — David Milarch believes he died and came back to life. And the reason was God had a mission for him.

    The mission was simple if grandiose: Clone the biggest trees and cover the world with them.

    The north Michigan nurseryman had little money, education or experience with cloning.

    Few people had ever tried to reproduce such old trees, which scientists said was improbable.

    Yet, in fits and starts, he has gradually cloned 140 species of trees across the United States, including ones that were 40 stories high and existed before Jesus was born.

    Several thousand trees are growing at his research facility 25 miles southwest of
    Traverse City. He has planted 10,000 for free in northern Michigan and California.

    His goal is to eventually plant enough trees to fight climate change. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming…


    Brand New Ancient ForestsBrand New Ancient Forests –

    its first effort to recreate a champion tree old growth forest, last
    winter Archangel Ancient Tree Archive successfully planted a four-acre
    grove of 2,000 to 3,000-year-old coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
    and giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) clones near Port Orford,
    Oregon. – See more at:

    its first effort to recreate a champion tree old growth forest, last
    winter Archangel Ancient Tree Archive successfully planted a four-acre
    grove of 2,000 to 3,000-year-old coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
    and giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) clones near Port Orford,
    Oregon. – See more at:
    Brand New Ancient Forests

  5. Nature
    Tree growth never slows
    Idea debunked that young trees have the edge on their older siblings in carbon accumulation.
    Jeff Tollefson – 15 January 2014

    Many foresters have long assumed that trees gradually lose their
    vigour as they mature, but a new analysis suggests that the larger a
    tree gets,the more kilos of carbon it puts on each year.

    “The trees that are adding the most mass are the biggest ones, and
    that holds pretty much everywhere on Earth that we looked,” says Nathan
    Stephenson, an ecologist at the US Geological Survey in Three Rivers,
    California, and the first author of the study, which appears today in
    Nature1. “Trees have the equivalent of an adolescent growth spurt, but
    it just keeps going.”

    The study has broad implications for forest management, whether in
    maximizing the yield of timber harvests or providing old-growth habitat
    and increasing carbon stocks….

    Nature World News
    Older Trees Grow Faster, Take Up More Carbon
    By James A. Foley – Jan 16, 2014 –

    “For reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more big trees are better!”

    An Old Tree Doesn’t Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Body-Builder
    by Richard Harris – January 16, 2014 –

    “…the oldest members of the forest are doing the most to pull
    carbon dioxide out of the air and to store it as carbon in their wood.”

  6. SFGate
    Teams tally biological oddities on Bay Area’s federal land
    By Peter Fimrite – March 29, 2014

    Scientists were swinging in the trees at Muir Woods on Friday as botanists, lepidopterists, entomologists and other lab-coat-wearing types poked around the Presidio and other sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in a frenzy of research.

    The professorial convergence is part of a two-day celebration of biodiversity called BioBlitz, in which 300 volunteer scientists document the bats, bugs, plants, mosses, worms and other oddities living on federal lands in the Bay Area.

    The event, sponsored by the National Park Service and National Geographic,is expected to attract 5,000 people, including 2,700 youths, who will take part in field science and attend a Biodiversity Festival at Crissy Field on Saturday. The idea is to increase scientific knowledge about national parks in the Bay Area and inspire future generations of citizen scientists to become park stewards…

  7. TriplePundit
    Volkswagen Biodiversity Initiative To Establish Nature Corridor in Mexico
    Andrew Burger | April 10th, 2014

    On April 8 Volkswagen (VW), the owner-operator of the largest auto manufacturing plant in North America in Puebla, Mexico, launched an ambitious, pioneering biodiversity and ecological sustainability initiative to help establish a protected biological corridor that will assure local wildlife has the habitat and migratory paths required for their survival. The program also aims to instill a healthy environmental ethic in Mexico’s youth and communities.With its “Think Blue” strategy, VW has sought to firmly ingrain and establish ecological, as well as economic and social, sustainability principles in its core organizational values, operating policies and procedures… The reforestation effort yields real, substantial benefits to VW’s manufacturing operations, as well as to local communities and ecosystems across the area…

  8. Radio Iowa
    Tree lovers heartbroken to find Iowa’s champion black ash toppled
    April 25, 2014 By Matt Kelley –

    On this Arbor Day, there’s discouraging news that one of Iowa’s two national champion trees is damaged beyond repair… “It looked to me like there was some decay possibly from some old storm damage or branch stubs had broken off,” Dahl says. “There was actually a beehive in it and it was quite hollow. I think the wind took it last year, and so is the cycle of life.” On the plus side, Dahl says they found no evidence of the emerald ash borer. It had been the largest black ash tree in America.

  9. OLD GROWTH TREES on Arbor Day
    At the University of Michigan
    Our Project: Offsetting Carbon Emissions with Old Growth “Champion” Sequoias

    Planting in the Nichols Arboretum – On April 25th, 2014, our project team along with the many friends we made during the semester will be planting twelve Old Growth “Champion” Sequoia trees in the Nichols Arboretum. These trees will serve as a proof of concept as well as begin to reverse the CO2 our University has emitted…

    We designed a prototype of our permaculture forest for an 8.5 acre plot on Dixborough Road by the Mattheai Botanical Gardens at the University of Michigan. Utilizing this prototype plot, the University could begin researching the carbon sequestration of these old growth trees as well as launch breakthrough initiatives surrounding the research and implementation of permaculture designs…!projects/c10d6

    Protect Society from Our Inventions, Say Genome-Editing Scientists
    A species-altering technology is said to need careful regulation before being released into the wild.
    By Antonio Regalado – July 17, 2014

    … Usually, the chance of a gene being passed on to offspring is 50 percent, but it’s possible to engineer an organism’s chromosomes to alter those odds…

  11. The New York Times
    Tall, Ancient and Under Pressure
    By JIM ROBBINS – AUG. 11, 2014

    SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — High in the Sierras, biologists are struggling
    to find ways to protect some of the world’s oldest and most storied trees from drought, forest fires and climate change. The trees are the giant sequoias, some of them 2,000 to 3,000 years old, and they are just one of several ancient Western species, including redwoods and bristlecone pines, that face a daunting future….

    Full article & video –

  12. The Washington Post
    We’ve killed off half the world’s animals since 1970
    By Christopher Ingraham September 30, 2014

    “… The declines are almost exclusively caused by humans’ ever-increasing footprint on planet earth. “Humanity currently needs the regenerative capacity of 1.5 Earths to provide the ecological goods and services we use each year,” according to the report. The only reason we’re able to run above max capacity – for now – is that we’re stripping away resources faster than we can replenish them.”

Leave a Reply