Self-sustaining ecosystems are vast landscapes that create ideal conditions for their own survival. The Amazon rainforest, for example, generates at least half of its own rainfall through the 'hydrological cycle', which in turn supports the abundance of the rainforest's vegetation.

Deforestation and climate change pose a threat to the hydrological cycle in the Amazon. Models suggest that the combination of the impact of deforestation, fire and climate change will weaken the hydrological cycle of the Amazon to the point where rainfall is insufficient to support a rainforest. Scientists think that this impact could be stopped if addressed early, but stress that once the degradation reaches a certain tipping point, it will likely only accelerate. The loss of the rainforest would of course have a damaging effect on carbon capture, itself accelerating global warming, and the loss of biodiversity would be catastrophic.

In his book Half-Earth, Edward Wilson proposes that half of the Earth should be protected. Wilson suggests that public and private measures of land conservation as well as tree planting and other ecosystem restoration initiatives could be combined to achieve this ambitious goal.

Clyde & Co is running a virtual legal hackathon between 1 July and 4 August 2020 in partnership with The Chancery Lane Project. This post is part of a series of updates posted during the hackathon on business-relevant climate initiatives and innovative solutions to some of the challenges arising from climate change.