“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.  We also secure the future for our children.” – Wangari Maathai


  • MenAware Nature retreat, New England N.P. May 31st – June 4th 2023

    It’s an honour to again have the opportunity to work with Ken Golding and Ronny Hickel in the MenAware nature retreat format. Ken is a grandfather of Men’s Work in Australia, and Ronny is the founder of www.yatra.org.au. This time we’ll be circling up on Thungutti Country, near the spectacular Point Lookout in New England National Park. Join us for four days of deep connection to country, to self, and to a group of fellow men on the path. For more information visit: https://yatra.org.au/upcoming-yatras/

  • Meditation retreat with Bhante Dhammadipa: 19-26th February 2023

    We are very happy to confirm dates for our first meditation retreat with Bhante Dhammadipa (http://dhammadipa.cz) in Australia, February 19th-26th 2023, at beautiful Corindi, on the NSW Mid-North Coast. In this retreat we will take a deep dive into the Four Immeasurable Minds; Loving Kindness, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity.  These practices are central to the Theravada and bodhisattva paths alike; prominent in the Tibetan tradition as “Tonglen” and Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects as “Breathing Through”.  Bhante describes them as the “meditations for our times”. For more more information and registration please visit:  https://events.humanitix.com/loving-kindness-at-yarrawarra. To keep up to date on other events please like and follow us on facebook.

  • Return to Mother India

    I am feeling very fortunate to have the opportunity to return to India, assisting Bhante Dhammadipa again as he tours and teaches. We have spent a rich two weeks in Mumbai, at Somaiya Vidyavihar Institute of Dharma Studies. There Bhante taught on the Chapter 6; “Questions of Maitreya” from the Samdinirmocana sutra, and important text for the yogacara or non-dual understanding of śamata and vipassana meditation. From there we have continued to Jetavana retreat centre at Sakarvadi.

  • Paper: High conservation values of the Dorrigo Plateau

    In case we needed any other reason to feel it worth protecting and rainforest habitat on the Dorrigo Plateau, my attention was recently drawn to this article:

    “Patterns of rain forest plant endemismin subtropical Australia relate to stable mesic refugia and species dispersal limitations” by Lui C. Weber, Jeremy VanDerWal, Susanne Schmidt,William J. F. McDonald and Luke P. Shoo


    In this paper the researchers share their finding of a high correlation between long-term stable climate refugia, such as that found on the Dorrigo Plateau, with high levels of plant endemism, meaning species found nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately the types of species driving this pattern tend to be poor dispersers (having large seeds for example) making them especially vulnerable to the rapid climate shifts associated with Anthropogenic Global Heating, This This highlights both the importance of both protection and restoration of connectivity between remnant rainforest patches for future conservation action in these areas.

  • Thich Nhat Hanh 11/10/1926 – 22/01/2022

    It is with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the passing of Zen Master, poet, peace activist and gardener Thich Nhat Hanh. We also experienced a great joy in witnessing the outpouring of condolences and memories of Thay shared by so many from around the world who have been touched as we have by his teachings, his life and his example. This time is one for coming together as a sangha, to celebrate what our teacher has offered us, and to renew our vows to walk the path of love and understanding.

    for more information and resources please visit https://plumvillage.org/

  • Seeking a home among the clouds

    The combination of economics, climate change and a global pandemic has created an interesting nexus of challenges for us in our search for a home for the Gaia Forest project. We have fallen in love however with the Dorrigo Plateau. The combination of land-forms, soils, climate, vegetation and community has what we feel to be all the right ingredients. In particular the long history of rainforest stability, and recent history of logging and land clearing make it a perfect candidate for restoration of forest. we hope that the situation will shift soon to create more of a buyers market. If you know of anyone who may have a farm for sale in the area that would suit our needs, please contact us and let us know!

  • Meet our founders: Tasch Arndt

    We are so happy to welcome Social Scientist, Organic Farmer and mindfulness practitioner Tasch Arndt to our team:

    “I am passionate about taking care of the Earth and the diverse human and more-than-human kin that we share this precious planet with. My interdisciplinary background spans ecology and the social sciences and I hold a Master’s degree in Human Geography from the University of Amsterdam. For my Master’s thesis I conducted research on feminist agroecology and Community Supported Agriculture. I have studied permaculture, worked on a small-scale organic market garden and believe that sustainable farming can be a regenerative and healing force that can support planetary and human health, reconnect people with the environment and grow thriving communities.

    to read more visit: https://www.gaiaforest.org/who-are-we

  • Meet our founders: Leo Lazarus

    We are thrilled to welcome a new founding member to the team: Engineer, author and traveler Leo Lazarus. Below is an excerpt from his bio:

    “I am a small number of circles Earth has made around the sun. I am a poet, writer, traveller, engineer and lover of all forms of life. Born and raised in Melbourne, I made my way to the fringes of the city in 2015 and began to form a deep and intimate connection to the land of the Warrandyte State Park, Wurundjeri Country. The Birrarung (Yarra River) wound coils through the rocky, sparse country and poetry arose in my heart. Since then I have been balancing an engineering career, with a focus on water networks, sewerage treatment and waterway ecology, with my passion for travel writing and poetry. My work has taken me to amazing parts of the world as a teacher of Human Centred Design for Engineers Without Borders, including Cambodia, India and Nepal.”

    To read more visit: https://www.gaiaforest.org/who-are-we

  • Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings transmission

    This month Br Tenzin was deeply moved to be one of the many recipients of transmission of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing.

    The First Mindfulness Training: Openness

    Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as a guiding means that help us learn to look deeply and develop understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic or discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and the world.

    To learn more please visit: https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/the-14-mindfulness-trainings/

  • Meet our supporters: Lisa Brown

    We are so lucky to count on the support of Psychologist and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher Lisa Brown from https://mindfulnesspsychologywellbeing.com/. Below is an excerpt from her bio:

    The beauty, courage and creativity of human beings is continually revealed to me in my work as a psychologist through which I hear stories of immense human suffering and social injustice. After reaching a point of burnout in my personal and professional life, I was introduced to mindfulness as a personal practice and began a life-changing journey by training with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

    to read more please visit: https://www.gaiaforest.org/who-are-we

  • An epidemic looms, and an opportunity manifests…

    On the advice of Thay Phap Luu I was on the cusp of departure for Thailand to stay as a visiting monk at the Plum Village centre, when news of the spread of COVID-19 started to circulate. Needless to say they have closed the centre to overseas visitors. Almost the same week, I received news that a farm had been purchased in the Blue Mountains near Bilpin, and offered to the Plum Village Australia community for the purpose of building a centre there. Senior western monastic Thay Phap Hai, visiting Australia, and also caught by the spreading epidemic, is going to go there to start the long process of building the centre, and along with Nathan, I have come to end a hand. perched on Bell’s Line of road, overlooking the Blue Mountains National Park section referred to as the Devil’s Wilderness, the place was once a peach farm, but now has a few remnant raspberries, a magnificent view, and trails into the recently burned forest. It feels full of potential.

  • Meet our supporters: Skye Indira and Miraz Mandozay

    Such a joy to welcome to our support team these two: deep ecologists, plant medicine practitioners and community builders both. below is an excerpt from their bio:

    “As lovers of nature and long-term dharma practitioners, we have been lit up by the movement of Deep Ecology / The Work That Reconnects. We currently facilitate retreats and study groups to raise awareness, build resilience and keep ourselves sane. We also facilitate breathwork, plant medicine and nature immersion intensives. 

    We are passionate about ecological identification, protection and regeneration. As warm-blooded human animals, we are deeply disturbed by the trajectory of our civilisation and the separation consciousness on which it is premised. Now, more than ever, we feel the imperative to explore Earth-friendly culture and ways of being – including spirituality, community, permaculture and soul-centric early childhood education.”

  • Meet our supporters: Nathan Sutter

    We are so happy to have the support and advice of Mindfulness and Yoga Teacher Nathan Sutter. Below is an excerpt from his bio:

    After previous years spent in community as an apprentice yoga teacher, and farm hand, monastic life came naturally to me and I found relief in this treasured time of training, study, practice and as an older monk, in time spent on the road. Post monastic life, I continue as a member of Nhat Hahn’s ‘Order of Inter-being’, finding ways to embody the possibility of sanity, balance, care and to quote the late Mary Oliver “something meaningful to work hard at”. I believe contemplation to be a gathering, a preparing of the earth and waiting. A disciplined time spent waiting for a revelation that can shift our fundamental view of life, allowing us to experience something personal, maybe liberating, possibly less cliché, often a deliberately courageous attempt at a meaningful life.

    to read more please visit: https://www.gaiaforest.org/who-are-we

  • Meet our founders: Bev Sibthorpe

    We are so happy to welcome to our team Dr Bev Sibthorpe. Below is an extract from her bio.

    “I attribute my comfort in being ‘on the land’ to my early years living on a small dairy farm in New Zealand. I trained as a nurse in Auckland before going on to study anthropology and human science at the ANU in Canberra, and subsequently worked for several decades as an applied epidemiologist primarily focusing on Aboriginal community controlled primary health care. I’ve had a lifelong interest in vegie gardening and in recent years have developed my interests in permaculture, syntropic farming, and bush regeneration”.

    To read more visit: https://www.gaiaforest.org/who-are-we?

  • We are live…

    Greetings from Myanmar. We have reached an important milestone in our project, the launch of this website! I am so grateful to everyone who has shown their interest and support, to all my teachers, and to the great thinkers and practitioners who have provided the inspiration for this project, many of whose words appear in the “manifesto”.

    Shwedagaon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

    For the next 6 months I have the good fortune to be travelling overseas, first to study meditation at Pa Auk Tawya forest Monastery in Myanmar, then on pilgrimage to Mt Kailash in Tibet with my dear teacher Bhante Dhammadipa. After this I will be continuing my studies at the International Buddhist Academy in Kathmandu, before hopefully following Bhante to India or more teachings.

    I plan to be back in Australia in late October, and beginning the next phase of the project; organising some retreats for our group of prospective founding residents to begin workshopping our aspirations in more detail. In the mean time, Bev will be continuing her research and networking, and responding to any enquiries.

    With metta, for the Earth,

    Tenzin Alex

  • Meet our founders… Tenzin Alex

    As a teenager I had a brush with Zen philosophy through the poems of Basho, and a fascination with the work of Masanobu Fukuoka, but in many ways the forest was my first meditation teacher. At the time I was engaged in field work for my doctoral research into climate change impacts on biodiversity, but sometimes when walking in the beautiful rainforests of Far North Queensland, I would simply stop and sit. Gradually, as my human presence was forgotten, I could listen to forest creatures going about their lives, and see things that might otherwise have remained hidden: a rare tree kangaroo with her joey, Golden Bowerbirds displaying, and once an endangered Tiger Quoll passed within metres.

    Through ecology I gained an intellectual appreciation of the interdependence of all life, but I also learned how devastating the impacts of unbridled human consumption can be. This reinforced a wish inherited from my father, a marine biologist who dedicated much of his working life to the protection of endangered whales and the creation of marine sanctuaries: to contribute in some way to conserving the beautiful and precious natural systems that nourish and support life on earth. It therefore seemed natural to me to become involved in campaigns for social justice and sustainability, especially climate change. In both academia and activism though I found unsatisfying themes of anger and attachment to view, and unhealthy levels of stress. Most of an ecologist’s time seemed spent in front of a computer, programming or writing competitive grant applications, rather than enjoying the wild places we love. I sought distraction in travel, in martial arts and in dance, but found no lasting solution.

    As for many, it was a simple Buddhist meditation class recommended by a friend that gave me a glimpse of a different approach to life. This encounter with the Dharma was very timely, coinciding with the illness and death of my father from cancer, and precipitating a period of intense examination of my priorities in life. In the Buddha’s teachings I found interdependence revealed in an entirely new light; one with the power to transform an intellectual concept of interconnection into a way of being in the world.

    I began to practice daily, but also persevered with a career in academic research and environmental consulting. Over the next few years I also travelled widely on pilgrimage in India and Nepal, discovering the beauty of trekking as meditation on the Himalaya, the power of Hatha yoga practice, and the richness of the Dharma, especially in the Tibetan tradition. During this time I also read a book called “Old Path White Clouds” by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, founder of the Plum Village tradition. By a circuitous route involving more research work in the Colombian Andes and in southern Norway, this seed came to fruition in 2014 when I had an opportunity to visit his monastery in south-western France.

    At Plum Village I was enchanted by the pervading atmosphere of peace; through the energy of mindfulness, simple acts like sharing tea, walking a forest path, or preparing a meal are transformed into a doorway to meditative insight and true freedom. Over the next two years I spent a total of eighteen months in Plum Village, including joining their ordination training program for one year, further clarifying my aspiration to the monastic path, and to building sustainable dharma practice community. On May 28th, 2017 I was ordained as a bikkhu in the Tibetan Tradition by Ven. Shabdrung Rinchen Paljor Rinpoche in Kathmandu, and given the unassuming name of “Ngawang Tenzin”, which translates as “powerful-voiced, holder of the teachings”, but which I prefer to think of as meaning “study hard, and be careful what you say”! Shortly afterward I also undertook a Hatha Yoga teacher training, the culmination of five years of intense personal practice.

    In my personal study and practice I am fascinated by the complementarity of the Theravadin, Mahayana, Hatha Yoga and Deep Ecology approaches to cultivation of the spiritual path. I am also interested in the application of mindfulness to living in harmony within oneself, within community, and with the natural world. In addition to the Gaia Forest project, I am also enthusiastic about wilderness yatra, (group walking meditation in wild places) as a modality for exploring healthy individuation and connection with the planet in this time of ecological crisis. It is my hope that the Gaia Forest project will grow into a beautiful container for holding these and other practices for our community to explore.

    With metta,

    Port Macquarie, Australia, April 2nd, 2019

  • power of community summit

    This great summit just finished: https://ecovillage.org/event/power-of-community-summit/

    I managed to catch a few talks, including Fritjof Capra, Christiana Figueras, and Joanna Macy, which were really good. Due to the timezone difference between here In New South Wales, Australia and Findhorne in Scotland, it was hard to see them all. So we bought the package. I’m looking forward to drawing on this inspiring resource as the project continues…

  • the project begins…
    A red dragonfly pauses for a moment on a lotus blossom, Lumbini, Nepal, birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama

    we are just getting started with our project, deciding on a name, getting a website up and running…