©Sam Gracey
Guest of Honour 2024

John D. Liu

In the 1980s and 1990s, John D. Liu worked as a television producer and cameraman with CBS News, RAI and ZDF covering geo-political events including the rise of China from poverty and isolation and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the mid-1990s the World Bank asked John to document the rehabilitation of the Loess Plateau, a plateau in north-central China formed of loess, a clastic silt-like sediment formed by the accumulation of wind-blown dust.

Since learning that it is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems, John has devoted his life to understanding and communicating about the potential and responsibility to restore degraded landscapes on a planetary scale. Since 2009, he has worked with Willem Ferwerda, the Founder and CEO of the Commonland Foundation, which is catalyzing privately invested large-scale restoration in many parts of the world. John is also the founder of the Ecosystem Restoration Camps and Communities movement that began in 2016, has grown to currently 65 camps on 6 continents, and continues to grow.

Studying ecology led John to receive a number of academic appointments. In 2003, John was given a visiting Fellowship with the Faculty of Applied Sciences and the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of the West of England (UWE). In 2006, he was named the Rothamsted International Fellow for the Communication of Science at the Rothamsted Research Institute of the UK. From 2008 to 2012, Mr. Liu pursued graduate studies in Soil science and ecology at Reading University, and in 2009 Mr. Liu was appointed Assistant Research Professor at George Mason University. From 2010 – 2013 he was a Senior Research Fellow with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2013-2014, Mr. Liu was asked to collaborate with the Critical Zone Hydrology Group, Vrije University Amsterdam. In 2014, Mr. Liu was named a visiting research fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (NIOO/KNAW).

John D. Liu continues to study and is currently the Ecosystem Ambassador for the COMMONLAND FOUNDATION.

John has produced, filmed, written, directed, and presented numerous films on the Environment and Ecology for the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, and other networks.