Saving the world’s rainforests
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As we personally witnessed the world’s rainforests disappear, we knew the world was losing more than just trees and animals. We knew that rainforests are worth more standing than chopped down. The question is; what can one or two people do about a global problem? But, as the Dalai Lama says:
“Sometimes I feel the problem is so huge and me, just one person, I can not do much. Each of us has the potential [to] make some contribution. And collectively, work with certain clear aim, we can change our world.”
The Dalai Lama
Watch this video of Alan explain about what is happening with rainforests today and what The Botanical Ark is doing to help.
Rainforests may disappear in our lifetime
It is frightening, and sad, to think that tropical rainforests may disappear from the earth in the foreseeable future. As you can see from the images at the top of this page, rainforest destruction is not a pretty sight.
In our parents lifetime, they occupied perhaps two percent of Earth’s total land mass- yet they may contain more than 60 percent of all land based life forms. But that is all changing. And changing rapidly.
In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, a patch of forest about the size of a football field has gone – forever. That pace of decimation continues 24 hours a day for every day of the year. Unless we humans change our ways, rainforests will go.
Rainforests under threat everywhere
It doesn’t matter what country in the world you visit, if they have rainforests, they are being cleared rapidly or are under threat. Even in a relatively peaceful, stable country like Australia, the rainforests have threats. It not directly from people, then from events like climate change. Much of what we humans do in our own backyards has global implications. It is time to realize that we all have global responsibilities.
If we wish to save some of these magnificent forests and some of the treasures of biodiversity within them, then it is time to slow the seemingly endless convoys of logging trucks and rafts of felled trees.
Logging can be a sustainable industry, it can provide humans with wonderful materials, but on a global scale, many current practices are seriously compromising future prospects.
While some see just timber in the trees, others see myriad of life forms, and can appreciate some of the benefits they offer the human race.
What is lost?
Indigenous cultures often have/had no written language. Their knowledge is passed down generation to generation within a natural environment rich in ‘tools’ or ‘books’. As the forest goes, so too, goes the ‘books’ on their library shelves, until a time when the culture disappears forever.
Years after our initial visits to forested regions, we have returned to find them gone. Standing on steep mountain ridges, where magnificent trees once stood, we would look out over cleared land for as far as we could see. In some cases our friends were unable to teach their children about plants we had seen just a few years earlier because the forest was gone or too far away.
“Burning rainforests is like burning the great libraries of the world.”
Many of the world’s leading biologists believe we are now in a period of mass extinction. They estimate the earth loses between 50 and 150 species every day. Sadly, the human species is accelerating that loss.
What can one family do about it?
How does an individual, just one person, make a difference? The enormity and gravity of the situation seems insurmountable. If we, all of us, believe that individual thought and action has the power to change, then collectively we can initiate big changes. But if we sit back, take no action, nothing will change.
We thought long and hard about how we might help save the natural wealth of this planet. Our family had no money, no political clout, nor friends in high places. Yet we were determined to try and do something.
“Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
Emund Burke, 18th Century.
What motivates rainforest destruction?
We noted that defenders of the environment had no vested interests. They championed the cause for everything, from the smallest spider to the largest tree, from the driest desert to the wettest forests. But for developers, their primary motivation was/is profit. They have everything to gain by hiding or distorting the truth and maligning the messengers for the environment, who they call ‘greenies’.
Through our research, we found two justifications for clearing rainforest. One; too many people. The second; greed. Explanations for clearing forests were statements like, “to feed our people” and, “to earn a living”. These are difficult to refute.
Making a positive act for change
We needed to show positive reasons why forests are worth more standing than chopped down. We felt that telling land-owners or occupiers to stop clearing forests while we sit in our comfortable homes was patronising, the wrong approach.
But what if we helped people recognise the positive values of a rainforest by designing our garden around those plants and manufacture items that people would pay for?
A rainforests worth?
We decided to target consumers, decision makers, business people and educators. Hopefully, with that approach, the message may flow on to families, co-workers, peers, and through the political system.
We know that tropical forests produce some outstanding benefits to humans. For example, what would life be like if the forests were chopped down before we discovered rubber or cocoa.
We know that tropical forests contain many more food and medicines that have the potential to enrich our lives. And some of these are disappearing while we procrastinate.
Our aspirations for The Botanical Ark
It is our hope that The Botanical Ark endures as a representation (albeit a small one) of what this planet has to offer. Hopefully, it is an example that we can live in harmony with our environment and show we can pass land to the next generation in better condition than we received it.
We endeavor to pass on a small part of the gene-pool of plants that face an uncertain future in their natural environment.
It’s all very well planting examples of these species but we have to save the forests, the ecosystems, they came from, and the culture and traditional knowledge of the people who live there. They know which plants, or combinations of plants, can be used to improve our health.
We’d like to think that visiting The Botanical Ark may help people decide if the bio-diversity of the planet is worth saving. Something to consider is: what answers will give your grandchildren when they ask, “What’s a rainforest?”
You may also be interested in reading a brief biography of us, or how we found the land for The Botanical Ark, or about our plant collecting around the world, or our aspirations for The Botanical Ark, or some of our travel tales.
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Dr Peter Raven
“Their highly successful effort to create a unique botanical garden, or botanical ark... will help to save, understand, and appreciate the wonderful beauty of the rain forests. They have demonstrated an unavoidable truth - that each of us has a choice, and that each can make a difference."
Who is Dr Peter Raven?
Garden Tour reviews
Guests can order this garden tour at time of booking.
“Great and wonderful and we hope that Alan and Susan’s forest work inspire people from...all of Africa to do the same and protect the nature and forests. Many thanks and congratulations.”
Mohamed and Khadija Ben Jemai (Tunisia)
“You are AMAZING! OUTSTANDING! TALENTED VISIONARIES! Who will ever understand all the dedication and hard work you have done? BRAVO!”
“The Botanical Ark is home to one of the most fascinating and unusual collections of plants I have seen... offering a stimulating mix of instruction and delight.”
Who is Michael Pollan?
Our (approx.) location
Precise location and directions are emailed for confirmed bookings.
“You just know that one day this story will be a Hollywood epic and top actors will vie with one another to play this extraordinary couple who have risked life and limb to pursue a most inspirational cause.”
Media Monitors Incisive Insight
“While most of us salve our environmental conscience by recycling the rubbish and sending a cheque to Greenpeace every now and then, the Carles attack the problem with inspiring practicality.”
Sunday Life Magazine
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