Tony Rinaudo has uncovered some surprising sources of hope for a warming planet.

“In that moment, for me, everything changed. I wasn’t fighting the Sahara desert … Everything that I needed was literally at my feet. And the real battle was, if people had reduced the environment to this point – it’s on its knees, it’s struggling to provide for anybody, nature or humankind – if it was people’s beliefs and actions about trees and nature that destroyed it, then that’s where the battle was. And if I can convince people to work with nature instead of destroying it, then the rest would be relatively easy. So that was the big turning point, the big revelation.”

In a world of rising temperatures, land degradation, and biodiversity loss, where can we find hope for the earth?

Tony Rinaudo is Principal Climate Action Adviser for World Vision, and he has spent more than four decades on reforestation – initially as a missionary and agronomist in desertified Niger, and since then in more and more countries around the world. The practice he has helped spread is called FMNR: Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration. According to one observer who’s worked closely with him, “It is no exaggeration to say that Tony Rinaudo may save the planet.”

Climate anxiety is on the rise for young people in particular. In this episode, Tony tells his own story of wanting to make a difference, explains what FMNR is and does, describes a hidden underground forest, and shares his sources of hope for the future.

“I like to encourage them and say it’s never too late. Do what you can within your means, within your circle of influence. And then, when you get to that level, you’ll always be able to see further and do more. And what’s more, what’s amazing is when you take a step in the right direction, others will come to your aid, others will join you.”

Read: Tony’s autobiography, The Forest Underground: Hope for a Planet in Crisis