Guardians of the Forest: Online Course
Guardians of the Forest Online Event with Vandana Shiva, Daiara Tukano, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Swati Foster, Katsuji Iwahashi, Yanda, Glennie Kindred, Pat McCabe, Eline Kieft, Andrey Laletin & 27 more
An online course in somatic, spiritual and practical approaches to forest care with practitioners from 30 nations across the world.
This course is designed to be transformational.
Ecological knowledge is placed at the heart and learnings are embedded in ancient traditions of forest wisdom, which can enrich human life in times of ecological and personal crisis.
Our approach to guardianship is grounded on affective ecology, traditional knowledge and spiritual activism. Drawing on these perspectives, as well as an experiential understanding of treescapes across bioregions, you will learn how to develop collective action for green justice.
The work of our world-renowned forest guardians will inspire your everyday and professional lives. Whether you are interested in environmental journalism, communication, activism, eco-art, research, environmental law, advocacy, or simply looking for inspiration, this course is designed to change the way we understand our human relation to forests in an age of ecological crisis
The 16-week course is structured into 7 interactive modules. In each weekly session, participants take part in 2 workshops followed by a group reflection and debate.
The course is held online via https://www.forestguardians.co/ and Mighty Networks from 5 May to 11 August 2021.
Opening Session. Monday 3 May 2021.
- Vandana Shiva (India) exploring the threat of globalised corporatisation, and the radical solution presented by agroecology and indigenous approaches to land and community organising.
- Daiara Tukano (Brazil) looking at cultural and indigenous rights, and the right to memory and truth of indigenous peoples in the human rights field.
- Swati Foster (South Africa) conveying the transformative somatic and embodied potential of animal-human relationships.
Module 1: Embodying the Forest. Bioregion: North East Asia#
This module examines who plants and trees are from embodied perspectives. We focus on building personal relationships with plants, drawing on somatic and spiritual approaches (Qi Gong, Shinto, Sirin yoku and bibo feng shui). The goal is to build a sense of personal ecological practice through movement, breathing, listening and everyday practices that recognise reciprocal human-tree relations.
5 May, 2021:#
Workshop 1 led by Dr Eline Kieft (Holland) on movement medicine, Qi Gong, and movement-based exercises to reconnect with forest energy.
Workshop 2 led by Swati Foster on Freediving in the kelp forests of South Africa and the transformative somatic and embodied potential of animal-human relationships.
12 May, 2021:#
Workshop 3 led by Yanda, a community leader in her Sapara Nation in the area of communication and economy, and in the field of indigenous media communication.
Workshop 4 led by Katsuji Iwahashi (Japan), President of Shinto Shrines of Japan, on kami rituals, forest protection and the worship of nonhuman forest guardians..
Module 2: Plant and Tree Wisdom. Bioregion: Britain & Ireland.#
This module focuses primarily on Gaelic knowledge of plants, herbs and soil, and the importance of knowing your land and forests. The module builds on the preceding learning to focus on wellbeing and medicinal connections between humans and plants, and the importance of trees and soil in the affirmation of a sense of belonging and connection.
19 May 2021:#
Workshop 1 led by James Canton on our ancestral connection with oak trees and the ancient woodlands of Britain, and how this runs through to us in the present.
Workshop 2 led by Charlotte Pulver on ancestral connections to the Yew tree
Workshop 3 led by Sioned Jones on earth protection and guerrilla environmentalism against monoculture plantation in West Cork.
26 May 2021:#
Workshop 4 led by Angharad Wynne on walking practices and knowing ancestral lands in the Welsh tradition.
Workshop 5 led by Glennie Kindred on ancient groves, herbal healing and the spiritual properties of trees.
Module 3: Ancestral Futures. Bioregion: Boreal Forests & Southern Rockies#
Ancestral forests and traditions are essential to re-imagining a future where humans and trees can co-habit harmoniously. In what ways does ancestral knowledge inform the way future treescapes are being imagined, specifically in relation to iconic forests such as the great Siberian Forest and the Boreal Forest of Canada? How can scientists, environmentalists and technologists join traditional forest communities to conceive a future where the care and guardianship of forests is secured?
2 June 2021:#
Workshop 1 led by Julia Adzuki in Sweden on embodied relationship to trees, resonance with ancient Ash and rituals for environmental grief.
Workshop 2 led by Andrey Laletin will share ways in which the Siberian forest is protected drawing on ancestral practices and traditional ecological knowledge and future initiatives for the guardianship of boreal Treescapes in Eastern Russia.
9 June 2021:#
Workshop 3 led by David Abram: ‘A Collective Sentience: Listening and Learning among the Aspen Groves’. Aspen groves are among the largest singular organisms in this breathing biosphere, and easily one of the oldest, their aspen trunks sprouting again and again from an outrageously ancient rhizomal root-complex within the ground underfoot. What are a few insights we can glean from these white-barked and expressive elders with their leaves glinting and whispering in the winds? For some of us they are the most medicinal of all plants.
Workshop 4 led by Natasha Myers will present an affective ecology and the ability of plants to sense, communicate and teach human communities how to live in an age of climate emergency, also drawing on her collaboration with the Indigenous Land Stewardship Circle.
Module 4: Traditional Forest Culture. Bioregion: Austral Forest (Chile, New Zealand, Australia & Pacific Islands)#
Cultural practices affirm ethical and ecological relations to land and forest. Song, story, dance and other cultural and creative practices are vital to an experiential and lived-in understanding of how we can care for trees, and how forests transform human society.
16 June 2021:#
Workshop 1 led by the Melinir family in the Pewenche community of Quinquen, who have led successful land reclamation and forest protection in Chile. They will show traditional harvesting of araucaria pines and discuss the role of cultural practices in preserving traditional ecological knowledge.
Workshop 2 led by Chaz Doherty (New Zealand) of the Tuhoe nation (Te Urewera) on traditional forest knowledge, resistance, and the role of artistic practice and creativity (wood carving); and Piki Diamond on the significance of the Kauri tree in Maori cosmovision and the educational power of storytelling.
23 June 2021:#
Workshop 3 led by Glarinda Andre on forest protection in Vanuatu and the Pacific Islands.
Workshop 4 led by Juan Francisco Salazar and Mark Greenhill on cross-cultural connections between Chile and Australia, the significance of the Wollemi pine in Australia, and the plight to save the Blue Mountains forests from wild bushfires.
Module 5: Forest Action. Bioregion: Tropical Forests (Sub-Saharan & Equatorial Africa).#
We learn how traditional ecological knowledge can form the basis of action and community organisation to defend endangered forests. Participants are exposed to frameworks for environmental activism and rights of nature that draw on indigenous forest knowledge.
30 June 2021:#
Workshop 1 led by Olivier Guiryanan on the sacred groves of Gadj Mbo and Dor Ngo Koho in Southern Chad, and how animist beliefs have led to legal protection of trees, especially the shea tree and carob tree.
Workshop 2 led by Alfred Brownell on the Green Advocates International, and the effort to work with indigenous communities in Liberia, amongst other West African countries, to save native forest from land grabs and large-scale extractivism.
7 July 2021:#
Workshop 3 led by Janet Maro on sustainable agriculture in Tanzania, and community efforts to ensure food justice, security and environmental protection.
Workshop 4 led by Daniel Kobei on the Ogiek forest people of Kenya and their landmark legal victory to defend the Mau Forest Complex.
Module 6: Land Justice. Bioregion: Tropical Rainforests (South America).#
How do communities work together to manage and protect soils, plants and forests? How are human-tree relations held together and how does justice guide the process? What can forest carers learn from indigenous wisdoms grounded on biocentric values? We will explore indigenous struggles for land justice in Peru, Paraguay and Brazil.
14 July 2021:#
Workshop 1 led by Vanessa Hasson and Adeildo Shawakawa on the rights of the Shawandawa forest people in the river Jurua (Amazon) and the plight of grassroots organisations to advance the rights of nature in Brazil.
Workshop 2 led by Aldo Benitez on environmental journalism in Paraguay, exposing the work of indigenous guardians & park rangers combatting illegal marihuana plantations.
21 July 2021:#
Workshop 3 led by Yesica Patiachi, with audio-visual support from Robertho Paredes, on the Harakbut forest people and land justice in times of Covid-19 in Madre de Dios, Peruvian Amazon.
Workshop 4 led by Ketty Marcelo and community of women leaders of the Ashaninka tribe in Pasco, Peruvian Amazon. The theme of this seminar is the reclamation of rights for intercultural medicine and rights to forest living in the context of Covid-19.
Workshop 5 led by Eliana Champutiz aimed at thinking and rethinking the territory, corporality and spirituality linked to guardian feminine energies. Eliana’s work, based on an audiovisual perspective, is grounded on traditional ecological knowledge from the Colombian-Ecuadorian border territory, in the Andean Frailejon Paramo biome.
Module 7: Community Organising. Bioregion: Tropical Rainforest (Southeast Asia).#
In this module we explore the power of community and group participation in developing advocacy and conservation work. Building on previous work on community-led action for forest care, this module will present landmark participatory work seeking to defend some of the most endangered forests in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
28 July 2021:#
Workshop 1 led by Boro Baski on tribal land law, livelihood and human security among Adivasi forest communities in Khyrasole Forest, West Bengal.
Workshop 2 by Amal Dissanayake on indigenous communities in Nilgala Forest and the significance of traditional ecological knowledge in enhancing conservation and animal co-habitation in Sri Lanka.
4 August 2021:#
Workshop 3 led by Mina Susana Setra on forest advocacy, food security and the importance of engaging new generations of indigenous people in forest advocacy in Indonesia.
Workshop 4 led by Alistair McIntosh on the power of place and connecting the people of the Elema in the Gulf of Papua with Scottish local communities in Eigg through spiritual activism.
Closing: A Ceremony For Our Times. Thursday August 2021.#
5 August 2021:#
A closing ceremony to connect people and forest life will be led by Tawana Cruz and spiritual leaders of the Kariri-Xoco tribe in Brazil, and by indigenous practitioner and teacher Pat McCabe (Diné).
On completion of this course, participants should be able to:
- Value trees as living beings in their own right.
- Appreciate the deep interdependence between humans and trees.
- Embody forest life through spiritual, somatic and experiential practice.
- Recognise the significance of cultural practices in forest stewardship.
- Read the land for an understanding of changing environmental conditions and threats to forest biomes.
- Evaluate ideas holistically for effective approaches to forest guardianship.
- Develop community-building for collective guardianship action.
- Understand the legal aspects of forest rights and land justice.
- Gain awareness of key forest guardianship projects currently underway worldwide.
Guardians of the Forest
Vandana Shiva #
Globally well-known intellectual and activist, Vandana Shiva has shown ongoing commitment in different fields, making it difficult to label her name under a precise and unique category. At the core of her activism there are: counter-development in favour of people-centered, participatory processes; support to grassroots networks; women rights and ecology. Author of numerous important books and articles, Vandana Shiva has shown a lifetime interest in campaigning against genetic engineering and the negative impact of globalisation, advocating for the crucial importance of preserving and celebrating biodiversity.
Glarinda Andre #
An indigenous community leader from Vanuatu, Glarinda Andre is the coordinator of the Live & Learn project, part of the Nakau Programme for sustainably financed, indigenous-led ecosystem protection and restoration under the umbrella of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).
Vanessa Hasson & Adeildo Shawakaya Shawandawa #
Vanessa is a leading environmental lawyer and advocator based in São Paulo, Brazil, and Adeildo Shawakaya Shawãdawa belongs to the Arara clan, or People of Wisdom, based in the Upper Juruá River in the Brazilian State of Acre.
Alastair McIntosh #
Alastair is one of the world’s leading environmental campaigners, distinguished in his ability to join together the outer and inner life. His book Spiritual Activism explores such paths of reconnection of the inner and outer worlds, which he argues is nothing less than learning how to sustain the flow of life. If we don’t do this, he states, “then our work will fall on stony ground, we’ll burn out or we’ll sell out.”
Tawana Cruz & Comunidad Ecologica Fulkaxo #
Tawana is the cultural and spiritual leader of the Kariri-Xoco Fulkaxo, a group of three tribes of the Fulnio trunk based on the banks of the river Opara in Northeastern Brazil.
Julia Adzuki #
Julia Adzuki works with transformative processes across the fields of visual, relational, performance and sound art. Her embodied enquiry explores underlying frictions of the human-environmental crisis through the sensuous relation of inner and outer landscapes.
Natasha Myers #
Natasha is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at York University, director of the Plant Studies Collaboratory, convener of the Politics of Evidence Working Group, co-founder of Toronto’s Technoscience Salon, and the Write2Know Project.