All the Earth's Children / And Women and Men / Are Putting the Forests / Together Again

July 22, 2013  •  1 Comment



First, something sad happened:




Yes, that's just about ten years.  To give you another idea, check out this map:


                                      Taken from:


So that's what happened.  We cut down a whole lot of trees.  But there is always a bright side.  There are people on the ground here in the Mata Atlantica (the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil), the people of Associação Mico Leão Dourado (The Golden Lion Tamarin Association) : their hands are dirty and calloused; they're often covered in sweat and bug bites.  They are men and women who, when asked, earnestly share why their work is important.  They are creating corridors between forest fragments for the tamarins.  They are mending the wounds of one of the most pillaged ecosystems on the planet.  They know details about their trees like you know details about your friends.  They are reforesting the Mata Atlantica, one sapling at a time.  



It's not easy work, of course.  The mosquitoes are insistent and the sun is fierce, and of course, the only trees under which to take cover stand no more than a foot tall.  When you plant an area, you have to keep returning for months to clear the grass so the trees have a shot at growing.  But once those brave little saplings grab hold and start to establish themselves, then you find the most glorious sight: for instance, in this photo, the light green trees in the front were planted just three years ago...  The forest wants to grow!



And now, more and more of us are listening again to the rhythm of the earth.  The rhythm we forgot, but are now remembering.


The Mata Atlantica is still 93% deforested, but slowly, hair by hair, humans are regenerating her.  This is what the Atlantic Forest looks like today: rolling hillsides, alternating between full heads of hair and bald ones.  Over the last fifty years, the baldies were winning out.  See, at one time, all of these hills were covered in trees.  Now... well, I don't need to tell you the story.  You know how it goes when cattle need room to graze.



But yes, we are listening.  We are listening to the needs of the forest, without whom I believe we would be lonely creatures.  We are interdependent.  Our most basic function - breathing - happens because of plants.  They are our siblings; since our conception, they have provided for us over and over and over again.  And now, slowly but surely, we are shaking our sleepy heads and hearing their whispers once more.  A friend once said that he believes our species had to fumble through so much darkness so that we could know precisely why we were choosing the light.  In this case: we are madly replanting because we came so close to losing them.  Reforesting is not a mindless decision - we choose to do it because biodiversity is undeniably spectacular, and the wound of losing it would leave a deep, dark scar on life.  And that we are choosing reforestation - in Mata Atlantica's case, anyway - one or two mere generations after the mass destruction began, illuminates the richest and brightest potential of our character.  One generation - again, in a geological time scale - is nothing.  We made a mistake.  We are fixing it.  And that will continue to happen.




Imagine filling a bathtub one drop at a time.  Then, you pull the drain.  You have to start over again in drops.  This is how I see the process of reforestation-deforestation-reforestation.  Want to help?  Here are a few things off the top of my head.


  •  Reduce meat consumption to two or three times a week.
  • Buy as much food that is locally grown as you can.  
  • Reduce your use of palm oil.  (A crop grown primarily in southeast Asia, but creeping its way into South America and Africa.  One of the BIGGEST issues in conservation.)
  • Walk/ride a bike instead of drive.  I know, I know - airplanes are the worst.  This is something I think I will minimize very soon.  
  • For Gaia's sake, if you are still getting a brand new plastic bag every time you go shopping, please stop.  Even for clothes.  Just stop.  Carry your purchases.  Stuff things in your bag (purse, backpack, whatever!).  I do!  And here's a benefit of that: la ter, when you least expect it, you find surprises in your handbag!
  • If you can donate something, donate.  It DOES get put to good use.  For instance, at the GLT project it is used for everything from reforesting, to provisioning bananas for struggling GLT populations, to education programs.  You can learn more about how to help here.  BUT!  Please don't donate to GIANT semi-corporate NGO's.  Sometimes they do things like raise money in the name of smaller NGO's without actually telling them or giving them the money.  Ew?!  Yup.  It happens.
  • Teach your children well - but more importantly, listen.  They want animals on the planet.  They want forests, too.  If you can siphon their enthusiasm, perhaps you can trade them the how-to-do information that they crave.  
  • Smile, laugh, cry, swim, hike, climb a tree, lay in the grass, bike, catch lightning bugs (and let them go), garden, attract pollinators to your yard, plant natives. Give thanks for cooperation and conflict. Reforestation and deforestation.  Light and dark.  We forget things, it's true, like how to be more ecologically-minded or that we are all interdependent.  But when you remember - well, that is breathtakingly poignant indeed.


To see more photos of monkeys and apes, you can look here


Curt Peterson(non-registered)
Wondrous work! You inspire through doing!
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