Healthy ecosystems help regulate, clean and purify our air and water, they maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. They provide raw materials and resources for medicines, clothing, heating, housing and other purposes. Our reliance on natural ecosystems forms the basis of our human civilization and economy.
Biodiversity is the key indicator of the health of an ecosystem. A wide variety of species will cope better with threats than a limited number of them in large populations.
Even if certain species are affected by pollution, climate change or human activities, the ecosystem as a whole may adapt and survive. But the extinction of a species may have unforeseen impacts, sometimes snowballing into the destruction of entire ecosystems.
According to the united nations 2019 report on sustainable development around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900.
Fellowship of the trees is committed to the creation, nurturing and protection of all planetary ecosystems and biodiversity. Therefore, we work to ensure that every action we partake in is of benefit to the land, soil and all life forms a part of it.
“If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us.” – David Suzuki.
Climate change refers to the global and regional rise in planetary temperatures that have been more notably observed from mid to late 20th century. Rapidly increasing climate change has been highlighted as a result of anthropogenic (human) impact, increased atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide due to the use of fossil fuels, agricultural land conversion and deforestation. It is the richest, most industrialised countries of the world that are primarily responsible for global warming and the current climate crisis.
The Paris Climate Agreement aims to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this requires widespread action to decarbonise and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The IPCC 2019 report ‘Climate Change and Land’ found that to limit warming to 1.5ºC requires global land-based mitigation and land-use change, including reduced deforestation and reforestation.
Fellowship of the Trees is committed to being part of the global movement demanding effective and just action to tackle the climate crisis, and to make a contribution through our actions and projects.
“We have a responsibility to protect the rights of generations, of all species, that cannot speak for themselves today. The global challenge of climate change requires that we ask no less of our leaders, or ourselves.” – Wangari Maathai
There are more than 60,000 different species of trees. Trees provide the air that we breathe, filter the freshwater we drink, provide food and medicine, make rain, clean the air, cool the temperature and provide shade, nourish the soil, and prevent erosion and floods.
However, over the past 300 years, humans have cut down more than half the trees on our planet. Deforestation continues at a rampant pace, despite pledges made by governments to end deforestation by 2020. Every minute, the equivalent of 50 football pitches is cut down, primarily for animal agriculture, timber, palm oil and mining. This in turn is driving unprecedented species & biodiversity loss.
The UK is one of the most deforested countries in the world and has only 13% tree cover, compared to the European average of 36%. There is now only 610,000 hectares of ancient woodland surviving, covering only 2.5% of the land.
As an organisation, we believe that the destruction of ancient woodland and old growth forests cannot simply be mitigated through replanting, and therefore it is our responsibility to guard and preserve these established ‘elder’ ecosystems. We advocate the use of alternative, responsible and sustainable sources of fuel, food, and energy that will prevent further harm and destruction being done to our global ancient woodland, forests and rainforests.
“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees”, Qwatsinas
All Life Is Sacred
In Greek Mythology the personification of the Earth as the ancient, matriarchal female deity ‘Gaia’ later was utilized within “The Gaia theory or the Gaia principle”. This theory proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.
Within some South American cultures and traditions such as the Quechua people of Peru, the Earth is known as “Pachamama”, honouring a living being that represents a ‘divine mother’ of which the human race are all born upon as her children.
Cross-culturally, many forms of spirituality honour the natural world within their tradition, and celebrate it for being our home. It is a celebration of the symbiotic relationship of Earth with all humans, elements, the plant and animal kingdoms, and describes a unification of the planet with spiritual life.
The Lakota people, a Native American indigenous culture, use the words “Aho Mitakuye oyasin” which means to honour “all our relations” – a universal ‘family’ of all beings upon the planet. The utilization of sacred ceremonies, offerings, rituals, prayers and blessings are all expressions and practices in which people can show devotion to the Earth and the sanctity of all life.
Fellowship of the Trees vision and mission stems from a belief that all life is sacred. This is from our own lives, lived with spiritual awareness and reverence to the deeply connected, interconnected web of life. When considering modern day western society and the rise of consumerist, capitalist, corporate culture, it feels to us that much of this ancient, ancestral wisdom that has formed the foundation of human evolution and culture is being forgotten. We live in times witnessing an unprecedented ecological crisis created by a remorseless drive for economic growth. This is leading to an increasing disconnect from the innate truth that all life is sacred. Our work holds the vision that we may collectively create a world where humanity lives in ‘right relationship’ to ourselves, the Earth and all beings. We wish for a world where as people we act from a place of peace and harmony within ourselves, and share this harmony through conscious, sustainable living and our relationships to others.
We work to combine sacred with environmental activism, based on author and teacher Andrew Harvey’s work. Sacred Activism is described as a “transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world.”
We promote all positive action that includes a conscious awareness and compassion for the planet and preserving life. We believe that all service to the Earth and to support the natural world is valuable and important, and love should always be the most important motivating force.
“Let the trees be your breath, Let the grassy fields embrace you, Let the mountains and the seas remind you, Let the dawn sky flood in and allow the clouds to guide you, And when the living world has merged with you, May you finally know yourself truly alive, reborn into wholeness, Natural, Sacred and Wild.” – Shikoba
Positive mental health and well-being is vital for every individual and society to thrive. Poor mental health can be caused by numerous biological, cognitive or environmental factors, ranging from genetic predispositions, neuro-chemical imbalances, traumatic events, and so on.
The demands of western society, including the need to meet one’s basic living needs through working life, cultural expectations, stress and social isolation can also all contribute to an individual experiencing an episode of poor mental health. Furthermore, austerity measures have meant that mental health services are under pressure, and it can often be difficult for people to get the support they need.
Research has shown that our connection to nature is important and proves beneficial for our mental health. Spending time in nature has been shown to improve mood, attention, reduce stress levels and even improve our interpersonal relationships (Chowdhury, MA 2020).
Environmental psychologists believe that the interaction and contribution of nature plays a significant role in human development, well-being and behaviour. Furthermore, disruptions in natural ecosystems and habitat in any given area invariably also negatively impact the human populations connected to them. Environmental psychologists highlight that our connection to nature enhances our spiritual wellness, we can experience a sense of gratitude and foster a desire to protect it.
‘Forest bathing’ has traditionally been used as a Japanese well-being practise, which has recently evolved in the West with ‘eco-therapy’.
In the ground-breaking book, “Last Child of the Woods” Richard Louv terms ‘Nature-deficit disorder’ as an issue that affects children. His research shows that children who are deprived of contact with nature may experience emotional or behavioural problems.
Louv proposes that reconnecting children with nature can transform their lives, and so inspired an international movement of ‘forest schools’ and nature based therapies for children.
Fellowship of the Trees is passionate about supporting individuals to improve their mental health and well-being through providing opportunity to connect and be of service to the Earth. We provide spaces for all people, from all backgrounds to experience the enriching joys of nature.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles”, Anne Frank.
“Ecotherapy improves mental wellbeing, it helps people to become more physically active, it gives people the skills to get back into work or training, and it helps people who are lonely or socially isolated to broaden their networks. These are all important factors that can prevent people developing a mental health problem to start with”, Paul Farmer, CEO, Mind.
Community living and the way of the ‘tribe’ appears to be a rarity in Western cultures, and yet having good connections and relationships with those around us are important for us to thrive.
At Fellowship of the Trees, we are a fellowship of earth protectors, activists, environmentalists and conscious, caring individuals. As an organisation, we mutually support and encourage each other, and we invite you to join our growing community.
“The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” – (Rabindranath Tagore)