Welcome to our May 2022 newsletter!
What a challenging year it's been for so many.
We'd love to open our May newsletter by gifting you some words of medicine and solace from Joanna Macy - founder of the Work that Reconnects which, along with Deep Ecology, has been the engine of Rainforest Information Centre's work for four decades.
‘We are all capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings ... Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal."
And Joanna also says ...
“You don’t need to do everything. Do what calls your heart; effective action comes from love. It is unstoppable, and it is enough.”
Let us do what calls our hearts, in whatever capacity we can muster in these crazy times to protect our planet's precious places for future generations of all species.
Here's a beautiful Strangler Fig Being at Los Cedros, Ecuador, who reminds us of our interconnectedness and strength.
Read on below for the latest news about our campaigns, and upcoming events ...
For four years, the Rainforest Information Centre has been supporting rural and Indigenous communities to resist grand-scale copper and gold mining in global biodiversity hotspots in Ecuador.
We have sent over $80,000 to Ecuador's frontlines who are defending their communities, waterways, mega-biodiverse ecosystems and human rights against this onslaught of extraction and greed.
Our campaigners at MRAG have conducted research, written media articles, disseminated reports about mining companies, and done direct actions at mining company headquarters and investment forums in Australia.
In December 2021 Ecuador's Constitutional Court decided in favour of protection for the Los Cedros Biological Reserve. The ruling was a world first for forests under threat of major extractive industries.
We're still raising funds to secure the future of Los Cedros - supporting the local governance team, formalising the reserve's boundaries, and bringing visitors and scientists back after two years of disruptions because of Covid and mining threats.
Brown-headed spider monkey, one of the critically endangered species saved by the Los Cedros ruling
But the fight continues as mining companies push their way in all over the country, trying to secure their investments.
We have a lot of work to do in supporting frontlines with advocacy, funds and resources, and letting the world know that it's not okay to plunder one of the world's most biodiverse countries for profit!
We're currently supporting some legal cases against several mining companies in northwest Ecuador. These are being written on behalf of communities who for years have fought unlawful entry, violent tactics, environmental damage and human rights abuses from these companies.
The cases will use important precedents set by the Los Cedros ruling, pertaining to constitutional rights to a clean and healthy environment, and rights to adequate consultation regarding environmentally risky industry activities.
The best scenario is that mining concessions across the region could be annulled. The worst is that mining projects will be held up in red tape, enabling communities to strengthen their resistance.
Protests at Buenos Aires, Ecuador. Image: BUPROE
We welcome end-of-financial-year tax deductible donations!
100% of funds support frontline communities in Ecuador with sustainable economic initiatives, legal campaigns, scientific research and mobilising to protect forests, water and livelihoods
For more information, visit our freshly updated Ecuador campaign page here.
Visit here for news, reports and interactive maps produced by our intrepid volunteers at Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (MRAG), who have tirelessly driven the Ecuador Endangered campaign from its beginning.
Northern NSW: Floods and forests update
On RIC home ground, the northern rivers has seen record-breaking flooding that has brought loss and devastation across the region. Lismore, for many years the town where we had an office, was well and truly underwater.
In response, several of the RIC committee and friends, travelled to Lismore and set up a soup kitchen which has become the Trees Not Bombs Community Recovery Cafe. We use every opportunity to talk about the need for revegetation of the catchment and diverting money going to weapons to be spent on catchment repair. The Cafe is still providing free meals and hot drinks.
10 weeks on from the flood few businesses have reopened, thousands of people have been displaced and/or are struggling to replace vehicles, household items, and get their lives together.
It is yet another example of a warming planet and the cost of inaction on curbing emissions. Warning: much social dislocation ahead. The environmental damage has been massive, with much of the headwaters of the Richmond River scoured, creeks silted up, erosion and landslips everywhere, and an unknown toll of wildlife.
Despite the wet, logging of our precious forests has continued anywhere the machines can get in. A few good folk from Forest Defenders stopped it at Girard State Forest for most of a week with a tree-sit. More action planned and banners being painted.
The ongoing destruction is coupled with the recent listing of the Koala as an Endangered Species, and new logging rules for private property in NSW that actually remove protections for threatened species and which still don’t require looking for them before logging. Without serious change, koalas don’t stand a chance.
Hopefully a new Government in Canberra with more members concerned about the environment will lead to changes that turn around forest loss…
We will continue to do what we can to make that happen...
Stop toxic waste dump in Tarkine forest
In northwest Tasmania, actions are urgently ramping up to stop mining company MMG from progressing with works towards a toxic waste dam in an irreplaceable old growth myrtle rainforest of takayna/Tarkine.
The building of the tailings dam will require 285 hectares of forest to be cleared - including nesting sites of the threatened Tasmanian Masked Owl.
Last year MMG were forced to stop works and undergo an assessment process under the EPBC (Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation) Act. This only happened after a three month long campaign of blockades and actions led by the Bob Brown Foundation, during which 71 activists got arrested.
In January this year, Environment Minister Sussan Ley backtracked on her decision, determining that preliminary works were not a controlled action under the EPBC Act, allowing MMG to pursue works such as grading roads, building new roads into the planned dam area, and bringing in heavy machinery.
Activists set up a permanent blockade camp on the access road into the mining lease site. This kept MMG workers out until police dismantled the camp in late April. Now an onslaught of surveyors, road graders and other contractors hired by MMG are attempting to enter to catch up on a year's worth of work.
MMG say that if the new tailings dam cannot be built, their lead, zinc and copper mine at Rosebery will have to close, endangering the jobs of 500 people. This is not true, however. MMG have other, safer options for their toxic waste disposal - that do not involve destroying old growth forests. This option is just the cheapest and laziest option for them.
Part of the huge wall of MMG's old tailings dam at Rosebery - photographed from the site a few kilometres away where the new one is planned to be built.
MMG proudly claim to be contributing to the 'green economy' by mining so-called critical minerals for clean energy futures. Yet they are destroying our remaining living forests to do this!
Actions on site are again at a critical stage of needing people on the ground to stop vehicles and machinery entering. If you're in or planning a trip to Tassie any time soon, email [email protected] at the Bob Brown Foundation to find out how to get involved.
Also, THIS WEEK is your chance to make a public submission to the government about reconsidering the rainforest for a dump, link here - deadline Friday 27th May.
Our growing community ...
Since the early 1980s the Rainforest Information Centre has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for grassroots campaigns through running Deep Ecology and Work that Reconnects events.
Deep Ecology and the Work that Reconnects is based on the principle that we will not solve the systemic environmental crises of our time unless we heal ourselves from the myth of separation from nature and reconnect at a visceral level to the web of life.
In 2021-22 so far, several immersive experiences have been run by John Seed and friends. Funds raised have gone to support the ongoing efforts of our frontline allies in Ecuador to resist mining.
Check out this link to subscribe to updates about future offerings from our Deep Ecology community!
Contact us if you are a facilitator and would like to host something in your area (:
Photo taken at Deep Ecology Immersion facilitated by Skye, Miraz and John Seed near Melbourne, 2021.
A word from John Seed about Deep Ecology ... and upcoming events
I have worked for worldwide rainforests since 1979. Although many of our efforts succeeded, for every forest saved 100 have disappeared. Clearly, you can’t save the planet one forest at a time. It's one green Earth or a bowl of dust. Without a profound change of consciousness, we can kiss the forests goodbye, the ones we’ve "saved" alongside the rest.
Deep ecology is key to the change we need. To deep ecology, underlying all the symptoms of the environmental crisis lies a psychological or spiritual root – the illusion of separation from the rest of the natural world which stems from anthropocentrism or human-centeredness.
Conditioned since the Old Testament to “subdue and dominate” nature, the modern psyche is radically alienated from the air, water and soil which underpin life and this is reflected in the rapid shredding of all-natural systems in the name of economic development. Deep ecology reminds us that the world is not a pyramid with humans on top, but a web. We, humans, are but one strand in that web and as we destroy this web, we destroy the foundations for all complex life including our own.
While we maintain a self-image created in the matrix of anthropocentric culture, a shrunken and illusory sense of self that doesn't include the air and water and soil, we will experience nature as "outside" our self and fail to recognise that nature "out there" and nature "in here" are one and the same.
Many people INTELLECTUALLY realise that we are inseparable from Nature and that the sense of separation that we feel is socially conditioned and illusory.
But as the late Arne Naess, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Oslo University, the man who coined the term "Deep Ecology" wrote: "it is not enough to have ecological ideas, we have to have an ecological identity, ecological self".
But how can we nourish our ecological identity? In answer to such questions, Joanna Macy and I developed a series of experiential deep ecology rituals called the “Council of All Beings” and in 1986, with Arne Naess and Pat Flemming, wrote a book called Thinking Like A Mountain - Towards a Council of All Beings (which has been translated into 12 languages). Along with others, we have been facilitating these workshops around the world since then.
In this workshop we remember our rootedness in nature, recapitulate our evolutionary journey and experience the fact that every cell in our body is descended in an unbroken chain 4 billion years old, through fish that learned to walk the land, reptiles whose scales turned to fur and became mammals, evolving through to the present.
We further extend our sense of identity in the Council of All Beings itself where we find an ally in the natural world, make a mask to represent that ally, and allow the animals and plants and landscapes to speak through us. We are shocked at the very different view of the world that emerges from their dialogue. Creative suggestions for human actions emerge and we invoke the powers and knowledge of these other life-forms to empower us in our lives.
One of the rituals we will share is honouring our pain for the world: we grieve for all that is being torn from our world, the species lost, the landscapes destroyed. Only if we can allow ourselves to feel the pain of the Earth, can we be effective in Her healing. This is why the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, has said that in order to heal the Earth, "the most important thing that we can do is to hear, inside ourselves, the sounds of the Earth crying".
This workshop enables us to find an end to the illusion of separation and experience our rootedness in the living Earth.
For more information, [email protected]
25% of the profits will go to protection of Ecuador’s rainforests.
If you'd like to make a tax deductible donation to RIC's general fund to support our campaigns, you can do so here!
To find other ways of donating, such as directly into our Public Fund, visit this page.
For the Earth
Liz, John, Susie and the rest of the RIC team