This story, We can learn a lot from the Botanical Ark, written by Gail Forrer, was published in the Noosa News.
We can learn a lot from the Botanical Ark
By Gail Forrer
One couple embark on a journey to save the Earth.
North Queensland shares the qualities of a summer dream. Surreal in its vastness, the hot and humid atmosphere slides you into a slower world where the unimaginable becomes the imagined. As we drove from Cairns CBD, up close to the Daintree I entered a world, known as the Wet Tropics, a place that pulsates to the beat of a different kind.
Americans Alan and Susan Carle played their own drum and found their natural rhythm in NQ some 30 years ago. From early childhood Alan, born in the Catskill Mountains USA not far from Woodstock, intuitively knew his destiny was in Australia.
With just a few dollars in his pocket he arrived in Townsville and commenced a marine biology course at James Cook uni, his New York girlfriend Susan soon followed.
As I sat in the couple’s stylish Queenslander, enjoying a lunch sourced only from rainforest fruits, the couple explained how the area corresponded with their shared desire to live in
harmony with planet. In the decades since their arrival they have completed studies, brought land close to the Daintree and raised two girls, they have also realised their bigger vision on a planetary scale – to save the world’s rainforest through the practicalities of food supply.
Theirs is the inspirational story of a couple who never let money stop them. Who knew why they were living in the right place at the right time and proceeded to save the world. Their mission has taken them to 40 countries, five continents and isolated islands. Over the past 25 years they have sourced more than 400 different species of tropical fruits and nuts.
These are not city people living the dream on their wet, green land named The Botanical Ark, they are surrounded by a rainforest. But like a newborn child, they had to lovingly coach the denuded flattened, barren cattle property into the lush earth it is today.
In their quest to thwart rainforest demolition, Alan and Susan noted the majority of food eaten by people comes from a handful of sources. In contrast the rainforests were full of undiscovered edible food.
As they have discovered new foods and their sources, they have spread them to lands where other food crops have either failed or leached the soil of any goodness.They have looked to give a supply of food and finance where there have been none.
They have added invaluable meaning to the Rainforest. In a world of quarantine, delivering
new food types to the world is no easy task, but Alan said: “Quarantine is more than an issue here at The Botanical Ark, it is a way of life.”
He said they, along with the Australian Government, are acutely aware of the risks and benefits of introductions of new plant species. “Together we have developed what are considered to be some of the most stringent and researched conditions on plant quarantine anywhere in the world.”
The couple have developed The Botanical Ark into an educational centre. Their modern home, hand built, reflects today’s’ environmental concerns, everything they eat comes from surrounding rainforest. It all seemed so simple to share a rainforest lunch of cheesecakes, lemon tarts, salads and hot chips.
Yet the work behind the philosophy had taken a lifetime and continues. Like many North Queenslanders the Carle’s cherish the land and believe it is their duty to save the land for future generations.
“Now is the time to decide how we must manage these resources to maintain the richness of the existing biodiversity. And for some of the endangered plants and animals that inhabit this earth, now is our last chance.”
In tropical North Queensland heartfelt philosophies have turned into life-changing missions. Alan and Susan believe that gaining knowledge of the rain forest and its fruits may save the life of the forest and lead to a road we can all travel on towards a sustainable future.
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