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Biodiversity Task Force – Life on Earth

by Dr. Christopher Puttock, ESRAG Chair


Zoom Webinar Link for Jan. 27, 2021  Biogeichemical Cycles and Nutrient Pollution (Nitrogen and Phosphorus)

Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential elements, which when found in excessive amounts can be environmental pollutants. The presentation will overview nitrogen and phosphorus as potential pollutants to air, water, and soil, as well as discuss some of the options and sensible approaches in reducing their negative impacts. In terms of planetary boundaries, nitrogen and phosphorus are beyond their acceptable limits for environmental health.

Dana Ashford-Kornburger is an innovative leader with expertise in soil and water conservation implementation and over twenty years of public service with the United States Department of Agriculture. She is a Certified Crop Advisor and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Science degree in Agronomy and Soils from Auburn University. Dana is currently the Director of the Conservation Division and Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs at the US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.


On August 12, 2020 ESRAG launched a Task Force to bring together the “Life on Earth” activities of ESRAG into one cohesive unit. This Biodiversity Task Force covers four great realms that can be visualized in the adjacent diagram. 


  1. Biodiversity of Life : seeking to slow and stop further loss of species
  2. Ecosystem Restoration : seeking to restore ecosystem services of the web of life
  3. Sustainable Production : seeking to produce and harvest resources efficiently
  4. Environmental Resilience: seeking to establish a sustainable balance between humans and biodiversity


This is one of five major task forces ESRAG is forming.  The others are:

•  A Clean World (free of human pollution – heat, gas, light, water, plastics, invasive species),

•  Circular Economy (cradle to cradle, smart design, keeping materials out of landfills, FreonTM collection and destruction, composting),

•  Sustainable or Renewable Energy (collection, storage, and use of energy – smart transport and cities, e-buildings), and

• The Human Condition (health, wealth, and happiness – population control, education for all, retirement, beating diseases).


Biodiversity Task Force Mission

In keeping with the mission for all Rotary Action Groups, the mission of ESRAG’s Biodiversity Task Force is to explore the different avenues of service that are available to the Rotary Family, and specifically to be engaged with projects for Supporting the Environment.

The three primary actions are to:

  1. PROVIDE EDUCATION: we need to provide the best understanding of nature, the best management practices for sustainability, and the best interrelationship between humanity and the life on Earth that supports our daily existence.
  2. BUILD PARTNERSHIPS and SPONSORSHIPS: there is a multitude of organizations at all levels of society that are actively engaged in supporting “Life on Earth”, some will be our collaborators and cooperators, others will seek our volunteer support, and others will be seeking to support us.  The opportunities are endless.
  3. TRACK OUR PROGRESS: In ESRAG we call this Project Impact Reporting (PIR). This is not only the place to showcase our Rotary Action stories but also to monitor our progress on Effective Conservation, asking the question “How well are we doing?” and being able to have an evidence-based answer.

Young mangroves in Tanzania. Credit:  UN Environment Programme


When do we meet?

The Biodiversity Task Force meets every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month. Each meeting will have a guest speaker who will focus on one or more of the many aspects of “Life on Earth”.  As our Task Force has members all over the world, the meeting time will be determined by the guest speaker for their meeting. The speaker’s presentation will be video recorded and archived, and available soon on this page. 


To sign up to attend the Zoom meeting: email Dr. Christopher Puttock.   The meeting time will appear on the Zoom invitation in UTC.

Meeting Schedule

The schedule of the next  meetings is presented below:

27th Jan. 2021  UTC+1:00 pm  8:00 am ET -  Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution (Planetary Heath) - Dana Ashford-Kornbuger, Conservation Division Director, Farm Service Agency, US Department of Agriculture (USDA FSA)

10th Feb. 2021 UTC+ 3:00 pm  10:00 am ET -  Rotarians:  Help Bring Back Birds!  (Ecosystem Services) - Katie O'Brien, Migratory Bird Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)



Who can attend?


Anyone of the Rotary Family can attend a Biodiversity Task Force meeting. These meetings are currently set to have no more than 100 attendees.  If you cannot attend a meeting, then you can review the meeting and submit comments at any time in the two weeks following a meeting.


Meeting structure

The meetings are 60-75 minutes long and run like an e-club for Biodiversity.

The Zoom Room will be open for 15 minutes before the meeting for chat and connectivity.

0.01       Leadership introductions and ESRAG Biodiversity moments (12 minutes)

0.15        Guest speaker (12-15 minutes – live or pre-recorded)

0.30        Questions with the speaker and Discussion of project possibilities (15-20 minutes)

0.50        Recap of ideas and follow-up Assignments (10 minutes)

1.00        Final thoughts and comments (no more than 12 minutes to close)

If you would like contribute examples of projects that you have been engaged with relating to the topic of the day, please do so using ESRAG’s project form  

To request consultation on a Biodiversity project, please email Dr. Christopher Puttock 






Coati de nariz blanco. Credit:  Fundación Jocotoco, Ecuador






Meeting Archive

Sept. 23rd  2020 Dr. Jose-Luis Izursa     Is Aquaponics a Suitable Alternative?

Oct. 28th 2020 Arun Vaddi    Coral Reefs    

Nov. 11th  2020 Dr. Chris W. Smith. Soil Health - an Overview for Agriculture