Refugium (rɪˈfjuːdʒɪəm): noun. 1) a place or situation providing safety or shelter. 2: an area in which a population of organisms can survive through a period of unfavourable conditions.
The cool uplands of eastern Australia have provided a refuge for rainforest species for over 100 million years, providing a living link to the deep-time history of the Australian flora and fauna. In the face of the climate crisis and growing social and economic uncertainty, the Gaia Forest project aims to create in this same environment a refuge for the cultivation of mindfulness and nature reconnection, for regenerative farming, forest restoration and Deep Ecology.
Some of our main principles:
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another” – Mahatma Gandhi
Deforestation causes nearly 20% percent of the world’s CO2 emission, equalling almost all of the emissions from the global transport sector combined. Globally forests are home to more than three quarters of all terrestrial biodiversity, but we are losing them at an astonishing rate; each year more than 13 million hectares: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/forest/reforestation-the-easiest.html
This tragedy also presents us with a great opportunity. The act of planting a tree is one of the simple, most natural and most effective ways to sequester carbon, improve soil and water quality, and provide habitat for biodiversity as well as food and shelter to human beings.
“We must find our way back to true nature. We must set ourselves to the task of revitalizing the earth. Re-greening the earth, sowing seeds in the desert–that is the path society must follow.” – Masanobu Fukuoka
Mindfulness and meditation
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – H.H. The Dalai Lama
We are guided by Buddhist principles combining compassion and wisdom, and especially inspired by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village tradition, who practice mindfulness in daily life as a path of transformation and healing. On the foundation of the ethics of interbeing, we aspire to tread lightly, live simply, and offer service in the form of space for personal retreat.
Through www.yatra.org.au, Gaia Forest will also be a base for nature reconnection retreats exploring the beautiful wild places of the region and beyond, along with study and practice of Yoga, Qi Gong and other healing modalities.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
“The fundamental insight of deep ecology is that underlying all of the symptoms of environmental problems, there is the illusion of separation between human beings and the natural world” – John Seed
The interconnectedness of the biosphere, exemplified in food webs and cycles of water and nutrients, is a familiar concept from the science of ecology. Despite this knowledge, our societies seem unable to refrain from damaging the webs that support us. Deep Ecology is a body of practices for healing this rift, reuniting us with a subjective, conscious and embodied experience of living, one that includes compassion and reverence for all life. Gaia Forest will be a space for the development and sharing of these practices.
“Perhaps the single most important thing that we can do to undo the harm we have done is to fix firmly in our minds the thought: the earth is alive” – James Lovelock
“The time has come to reclaim the stolen harvest and celebrate the growing and giving of good food as the highest gift and the most revolutionary act.” – Vandana Shiva
Inspired by the work of Masanobu Fukuoka (natural farming) and Ernst Götsch (syntropic agroforestry), we aim to grow wholesome, organic food, through agricultural practices that are not only sustainable but regenerative. By restoring the function of natural nutrient and water cycles, regenerative agriculture rebuilds the soil microbiome, especially fungi, and sequesters carbon with minimal inputs, benefiting human and environmental health.
Humans have for millennia also recognised the health benefits natural medicines based on plants and fungi. Only relatively recently have pharmaceutical companies attempted to control this natural pharmacopeia, through patenting and synthesising them. We envisage also the cultivation of natural medicines in the European and Chinese traditional apothecaries, and notably Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum).
“Unconditional love and cooperation are the basic principles of inter and infraspecific relationships between all species of this planet. It is a fundamental precondition for the syntropic process to occur.” Ernst Götsch
There are a number of ways to support the Gaia Forest project: As a supporter, investor, or member.
As a supporter you can offer a donation to help keep the lights on as we realise this dream. As an investor you can make a substantial contribution towards the securing of land as a home for the project. An investment in the Gaia Forest project is an investment in carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and community resilience. Our members are committed to the path of practice and service, contributing financially and energetically to the realisation of the project. To find out more about how you can invest or become a member, please contact us. Visit the page who are we? to meet our founders.