Bear Springs Ecological Restoration Project

Natural Climate Solution

"Natural climate solutions are vital to ensuring we achieve our ultimate objective of full decarbonization and can simultaneously boost jobs and protect communities in developed and developing countries."

- Christiana Figueres*

Bowie, Arizona, USA

Project Type

Natural Climate Solution
- Construct site-specific earthworks-based rainwater catchment and retention methods
- Restore and protect soil viability
- Reseed native vegetation without irrigation
- Design and plant an educational demonstration site


4500 seeded rainwater catchments  currently funded. Property is over 1000 acres

Environmental benefits

- Mitigate impacts of climate change
- Restore native vegetation and critical habitat
- Enrich local biodiversity
- Reduce erosion and improve soil quality

Community benefits

- Enhance economic viability through sustainability
- Create local jobs
- Educate public


- Sonoran Permaculture Guild
- Borderlands Restoration Network
- Arizona State University

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Bear Springs Reforestation Project

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Defining the problem

Globally, groundwater is becoming more and more scarce. Arid regions now make up 33% of the earth’s landmass. In desert environs like Bear Springs, the rainwater that does come falls in such large volumes, and in such short amounts of time, that only marginal amounts can be absorbed. Instead, flash floods careen down the length of the watershed, eroding hillsides and carrying precious topsoil miles away. 

Over the centuries, industrial and agricultural pursuits have further reduced the soil’s ability to support life. As groundwater disappears and soil quality degrades, vulnerable lands can support less vegetation. Fewer plants mean less decaying leaf matter and therefore less nutrients returned to the soil. Without protective groundcover, the soil becomes subject to heat and wind and the process of degradation increases.

Bear Springs Ecological Restoration Plan

The Bear Springs habitat is a high desert ecosystem with historically notable biodiversity that has been damaged by human activities.

The five part plan is designed to remedy the effects of these activities: erosion, soil degradation, species reduction, lowered aquifers and stress on economies. 

1. Design and construct site-specific earthworks-based rainwater catchment and retention methods.
2. Restore and protect soil viability.
3. Reseed native vegetation without irrigation.
4. Design and plant a demonstration site with mature irrigated
vegetation and interpretative signage.
5. Enhance economic viability through sustainability. 

* Convener of Mission 2020 and former head of the UNFCCC