Guardians of the Forest: Online Course — Advaya

Consciousness & Spirituality, Activism & Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Story-Telling & Narrative

Guardians of the Forest: Online Course

Guardians of the Forest Online Event with Vandana Shiva, Daiara Tukano, Swati Foster, Dr Qing Li, Dr Sharon Blackie, Glennie Kindred, Pat McCabe, Eline Kieft, Katsuji Iwahashi, Hae-Joon Jung & 19 more

An online course in somatic, spiritual and practical approaches to forest care with practitioners from 30 nations across the world.

Monday 3rd May to Wednesday 11th August, 2021 Online Course

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guardians of the forest, online course, forest care, indigenous wisdom,

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 Haejoon Jung (Korea) on Korean village groves (mauelsoop) and the ancient practice of bibo feng shui, designed to achieve harmony between human and forest life.

12 May, 2021:#

Workshop 1 led by Qing Li (Japan) on forest medicine, aromatherapy and the curative properties of forest bathing (sinrin yoku).

Workshop 2 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 Herb 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 Sharon Blackie on native British and Irish myths about the role of women as guardians and protectors of the land.

Workshop 2 led by Sioned Jones on earth protection and guerrilla environmentalism against monoculture plantation in West Cork.

26 May 2021:#

Workshop 1 led by Angharad Wynne on walking practices and knowing ancestral lands in the Welsh tradition.

Workshop 2 led by Glennie Kindred on ancient groves, herbal healing and the spiritual properties of trees.

Module 3: Ancestral Futures. Bioregion: Boreal Forests#

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 Natasha Myers in Canada.

Workshop 2 led by Andrey Laletin in Russia.

09 June 2021:#

Workshop 1 led by Deborah McGregor on how ancestral lands and traditional knowledge can provide a way of imagining future relations with trees and forests grounded upon realistic structural change.

Workshop 2 led by Melina Laboucan Massimo in Canada.

Module 4: Traditional Forest Culture. Bioregion: Austral Forest (Chile, New Zealand, Australia)#

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 Glarinda Andre on forest protection in Vanuatu and the Pacific Islands.

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 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 Professor 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.

29 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.

9 July 2021:#

Workshop 1 led by Janet Maro on sustainable agriculture in Tanzania, and community efforts to ensure food justice, security and environmental protection.

Workshop 2 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 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.

21 July 2021:#

Workshop 1 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 2 led by Aldo Benitez on environmental journalism in Paraguay, exposing the work of indigenous guardians & park rangers combatting illegal marihuana plantations.

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.

27 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 1 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 2 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. Monday 11 August 2021.#

11 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).

Learning Outcomes

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.

Monday 3rd May to Wednesday 11th August, 2021 Online Course

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Guardians of the Forest

A unique online course in somatic, spiritual and practical approaches to forest care with practitioners from communities in 30 nations around the world.

Browse all Guardians of the Forest events

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.

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Daiara Tukano #

Daiara Tukano is an indigenous activist, artist and communicator from Amazonas, Brazil

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Swati Foster #

Swati Foster is one of India’s best known environment journalists and director at Sea Change Project.

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Dr Qing Li #

Dr Qing Li is the world’s foremost expert in Forest Medicine and immunology.

Read Dr Qing Li’s profile

Dr Sharon Blackie #

Dr Sharon Blackie is an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction, a psychologist who has specialised both in neuroscience and narrative, and a mythologist with a specialisation in Celtic Studies.

Read Dr Sharon Blackie’s profile

Glennie Kindred #

Glennie Kindred is the author of twelve books on Earth wisdom, creating ceremony, native plants and trees and celebrating the Earth’s cycles.

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Pat McCabe #

Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe), a northern New Mexico-based mother of five.

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Eline Kieft #

In her work, Eline combines her passion for anthropology, health, spirituality, and her intimate knowledge of the dancer’s body.

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Katsuji Iwahashi #

Katsuji Iwahashi is Deputy Director of the Secretarial Department of Jinja Honcho, the central office of Shinto shrines in Japan.

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Hae-Joon Jung #

Hae-joon’s work focuses on landscape heritage and its role in nature conservation.

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Andrey Laletin #

Andrey is a leading Russian ecologist and environmental scientist based in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.

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Sioned Jones #

Sioned is a renowned environmental activist and guerrilla rewilder based in Bantry, West Cork (Ireland)

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Juan Francisco Salazar #

Juan Francisco Salazar is an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker with a PhD in Communication and Media from Western Sydney University.

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Mark Greenhill #

Mark Greenhill has been a Blue Mountains City councillor for 17 years, seven of which he has served as Mayor after being first elected in 2013 and again in 2018.

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Piki Diamond #

Piki was born and raised in Tauranga yet she is of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent.

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Chaz Doherty #

The Tūhoe have lived in Te Urewera, the largest Indigenous Forest in The Fish of Māui (Te ika a Māui) also known as the North Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Read Chaz Doherty’s profile

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+).

Read Glarinda Andre’s profile

Radiatu Haja Sheriff-Kahnplaye #

Radiatu Haja Sheriff-Kahnplaye is a Liberian environmentalist.

Read Radiatu Haja Sheriff-Kahnplaye’s profile

Olivier Guiryanan #

Olivier Guiryanan is the Executive Director of BUCOFORE, an action research centre based in N’Djamena, Chad.

Read Olivier Guiryanan’s profile

Daniel Kobei #

Daniel Kobei is the Founder and Executive Director of Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP), a Kenyan-based NGO working to secure human and land rights of the indigenous Ogiek community and other Indigenous Peoples (IPs) across Kenya and Africa.

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Alfred Brownell #

Alfred Brownell is a Liberian environmental activist and lawyer.

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Janet Maro #

Janet Maro is a leading Tanzanian social entrepreneur and agroecologist.

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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.

Read Vanessa Hasson & Adeildo Shawakaya Shawandawa’s profile

Aldo Benitez #

Aldo is an environmental journalist from Asunción, Paraguay.

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Ketty Marcelo #

Ketty Marcelo is a renowned Asháninka leader, former president of the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Women of Peru (ONAMIAP).

Read Ketty Marcelo’s profile

Mina Susana Setra #

Mina Susana Setra is an indigenous, environmental and land rights activist from Borneo.

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Amal Dissanayake #

Amal Dissanayaka is an action researcher from Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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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.”

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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.

Read Tawana Cruz & Comunidad Ecologica Fulkaxo’s profile