Hello friends and supporters of Rainforest Information Centre, old and new. We present our spring quarterly newsletter. Enjoy!
Malaysia: Lawsuit against land defenders dropped!
We begin with very good news. Malaysia's largest timber company has withdrawn its defamation lawsuit against Indigenous grassroots organisation, SAVE Rivers! This dramatic turnaround is an enormous relief for local people, who were potentially liable for damages of over one million dollars.
SAVE Rivers represents Indigenous communities located within a protected part of the largest remaining stand of primary rainforest in Borneo. People are protecting their lands from illegal logging which threatens their culture and many endangered species.
RIC raised a crowdfund to support the legal costs of SAVE Rivers as they prepared for their September hearing at the Miri High Court - which now has not needed to go ahead. The fund reached its target of $7000, and the money has been received - with much gratitude to all donors who contributed.
Malaysian sun bear, an endangered species. Photo credit: Chien C Lee Photography
Ecuadorians vote to protect the world's most biodiverse forests
On August 20th, two national referenda were held in Ecuador, calling to protect forests from extractive industry. Both were wins for people and biodiversity!
58% of Ecuadorians voted to stop all current and future oil drilling inside the Yasuni National Park - an extraordinarily biodiverse part of the Amazon rainforest. This is great cause for celebration for Indigenous people, including the Waorani, whose ancestral lands have been impacted by oil exploitation for decades.
The second referendum has blocked mining development in the Choco Andino UNESCO reserve - a biological and cultural gem in the country's northwest. Australian mining companies, among others, now cannot operate within the area. Listen to a recent 3CR podcast about this with Rainforest Information Centre campaigner Liz Downes.
Alicia Cahuiya, Waorani leader, stands beside a tree in her Yasuní homeland within an area secretly earmarked for a new oil well.
Updates from Los Cedros
In March this year Los Cedros hosted a German film team headed by Bettina Behrend, who is creating a documentary about deep ecology, rights of nature and the importance of respecting Indigenous ways of relating to nature.
Currently, scientists are on site studying nectar feeding bats and the flowering plants they depend on. Los Cedros has some of the world's richest diversity of pollinator species - and not just insects. Birds, bats and mammals are equally important.
Earlier this year, RIC supported Los Cedros with a grant enabled by bee conservation organisation and social enterprise, Flow - Billions of Blossoms towards the ongoing work of protecting pollinators - not just insects, but bats, birds and even mammals!
Watch and share our very cool 9 second Bat Tongue reel, created to acknowledge our partnership with Flow.
Recently, an exciting discovery was made in the reserve - a mammal new to science! Called an "olinguiló", this nocturnal, tree dwelling furry critter was previously mistaken for a known species. Los Cedros continues to be a scientific frontier for biodiversity!
RIC is working to amplify the legal precedent of the 2021 court win, which banned mining in Los Cedros. This is vital, as Ecuador's unique Rights of Nature laws are in no way safeguarded for the future. There continues to be mounting pressure to mine two million hectares of Ecuador's most ecologically vulnerable regions.
Olinguiló - photo provided by Josef de Coux.
Another grant enabled by Flow - Billions of Blossoms has birthed an enthusiastic team of citizen scientists in the mining-affected region of Intag, close to Los Cedros in northwestern Ecuador.
Funds have gone towards training local people to monitor the Junín cloud forest reserve (threatened by a massive copper mining project) for endemic and endangered species. This is part of a process called ecoforensic, which involves compiling evidence towards future Rights of Nature court cases.
A recent night time expedition found lots of amphibians - at least one of which may be new to science! The last time the Junín community named a new species was in 2021, with the "Resistance Rocket Frog."
Help us continue to protect Ecuador's rainforests - including Los Cedros - and support grassroots legal battles against destructive mining projects. We've just reached halfway towards our 2023 crowdfund target - a bit of a way to go (:
NSW Forests: Fight to save koalas from extinction continues
As the biodiversity and climate crises heat up, you’d think that protecting carbon rich, biodiverse native forests was a no brainer, but the NSW government continues the tradition of head in sand decision making.
Thus, logging continues apace in the area proposed and promised as a Great Koala National Park (around Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca). The latest announcement from the Environment Minister says there will be another 2 years of destruction before we are likely to see the promise of protection kept. Absolute insanity. Much fanfare was made about protecting ‘Koala Hubs’ which only make up about 5% of the area available for logging.
Koala and joey, Bulga Forest. Photo provided by Susie Russell
Some of the RIC team are actively involved in trying to protect Bulga Forest, west of Port Macquarie, which our citizen science efforts have shown to be a stronghold for the Greater Glider. Greater Gliders are wondrous creatures. About the size of a cat, they are nocturnal, feed almost exclusively on gum leaves, and are able to glide 100 metres tree to tree… if the trees are there. They depend on old trees with hollows, in which they shelter during the day and raise their young. Since the 2019/20 bushfires they have been recognised as Endangered, with an estimated 80% fall in their population over the last 20 years.
A glimmer of hope is that Tallaganda Forest in Southern NSW, which also has a healthy population of Greater Gliders has seen the Environment Protection Authority recently put a Stop Work Order on logging there, because of the abject failure of the Forestry Corporation (the State owned logging company) to identify and protect the Greater Glider den trees.
White Greater Glider, Bulga Forest. Photo provided by Susie Russell
Hopefully the EPA will be consistent, and require Forestry Corporation to protect the den trees in Bulga, and other forests where there are still Greater Gliders. Meanwhile the local community remains vigilant and ready to engage in direct action if necessary.
Another forest hot-spot is Kiwarrak near Taree on the mid-north coast. Kiwarrak was badly burnt in the fires and is in recovery. Koalas are recolonising the forest. Locals in the area are getting organised to oppose the logging.
Koalas with their young joeys have been seen in the forest scheduled for logging in November. But unfortunately, despite Koalas also being Endangered, the presence of Koalas doesn’t trigger a search and protection of the area they live because some super dodgy ‘science’ has been done that says Koalas aren’t impacted by logging. The age of misinformation is truly upon us.
Other communities are getting organised to raise awareness of the values of the forests that are the water catchment for most of Australia’s east coast cities. There have been protests on the NSW central coast, speaking up for Ourimbah forest.
We are all waiting for the judgement in several court cases that have been heard that will determine whether the logging being conducted under the Regional Forest Agreements is even legal. We say it is not, but the judge gets to decide. If our colleagues in the North East Forest Alliance win the case, then that will open much of the logging occurring up to legal challenge. Another legal challenge against specific Harvest Plans is also awaiting judgement .
RIC, of course, will continue to support in whatever way we can, including financially.
Forest Festival - North Coast NSW
For those on the north coast, there is a Forest Festival organised by the Bob Brown Foundation in Bellwood Park, Nambucca Heads on November 4 from 3.30pm.
Speakers include Bob Brown, Uncle Miklo and John Seed.
END ALL NATIVE FOREST LOGGING NOW!
Update: Forest Way Restoration Project, Arunachala, India
For decades RIC has been helping communities to reforest of the sacred Arunachala mountain in India's Eastern Ghats. Listen to John Seed talk about this history
Over the past 20 years we have been supporting The Forest Way with their amazing restoration work at Arunachala - read more here.
In a recent report, The Forest Way mentioned to RIC that the nursery will need the equivalent of $26,000 to operate in 2023-24. In response we have just forwarded $11,000 to our project partners. You can make a tax-deductible donation through our donate page below.
Mother Nature Forest Project in Cambodia
Mother Nature Cambodia, a youth-led environmental rights organisation, is among the recipients of this year’s Right Livelihood Award (dubbed the 'Alternative Nobel Prize') for their activism protecting Cambodia’s natural resources and standing up for human rights and democracy.
RIC first started supporting the work of Mother Nature Cambodia around 2010. From John Seed's blog entry:
"See this 5 minute clip we made in defence of the largest rainforest remaining in Southeast Asia. RIC's colleague in Cambodia, Alex Davidson writes:
Great news for many reasons, mainly because it should minimise risks of further jail time for our activists. Here's an excellent article about it. I am once more reminded of the support you and your team / supporters provided to us back in the day, over 10 years ago now, my god! You guys were the very first ones to support us and believe in us, and we have come such a long way since.
"I can't possibly thank you enough for that support, it meant so much and made me/us realise so many things. Cambodia's nature is still immensely under threat, but at the very least certain areas of it are still hanging in there, thanks to the amazing campaign of activists ..."
Upcoming Deep Ecology Events in lutruwita (Tasmania)
Embodied deep ecology? A deep immersion ritual in the alpine wonder of Mt Field? A circle of sacred community? Weaving together deep ecology, eco-somatics, and creative expression, this is a special opportunity to sink-deep over a whole week. NOTE: Bookings will close this Thursday 26th October, so if you feel the call, get in quick!
Shar Molloy says: "Very excitingly, Antonia Burke, a Yanyuwa/Garrwa woman who grew up on the Tiwi Islands, will be co-facilitating with John and I. I have worked with Antonia on the highly successful Stop Barossa campaign, where we centred the "more than human" in the campaign, so actively applying deep ecology into environmental work. Antonia is also an incredible advocate and healing practitioner.
This will possibly be the only time Antonia comes from Darwin to Tassie to co-facilitate a deep ecology workshop, so if you can make it, I highly recommend it. You can hear Antonia sharing at a Barossa Campaign rally in this Facebook video- she starts talking at the 5:10 minute mark."
Deep Ecology Network updates from John Seed
If you’d like more of an idea of what a deep ecology immersion feels like, one of the participants in a Melbourne workshop earlier this year has written a delightful account.
My close friends and colleagues Inna, Skye & Miraz are offering 6 weeks of “Practices for Awakening & Resilience in a Changing World” – a course of online sessions and home practices, starting November 3.
I was invited to submit an article to the “Metabolising Grief” episode of the Deep Times Journal and this allowed me to engage in the first serious writing I’ve done in yonks; "Hearing, Inside Ourselves, the Sounds of the Earth Crying".
My colleagues Skye Cielita Flor and Miraz Indira’s wonderful "The Joyful Lament: on Pain for the World" may also be found there.
Skye and I took part in the Work That Reconnects webinar series with a session last month titled “Honouring our Pain for the World”. Over 600 people from around the world registered for our earlier contribution on Experiential Deep Ecology in May.
I’m delighted to join Joanna Macy and a host of other wonderful presenters for the Gaian Gathering for the Work That Reconnects Network from November 1 to 5.
The Aussie deep ecology community is much enriched by the return of Pat Fleming after decades in England. One of the Authors of “Thinking Like a Mountain – Towards a Council of All Beings” (alongside Joanna Macy, Arne Naess and myself) Pat has wasted no time integrating with the 50 plusdeep ecology facilitators in Oz and the wider deep ecology community.
Joanna, Pat and myself had a marvellous 90 minute zoom call last month, the first time the three of us have been together since we finished the book 35 years ago. It felt like lots of new directions emerged, and highlights will be available on YouTube soon.
Meanwhile, Pat and I did a webinar for the Australian Earth Laws Alliance last month on the Work That Reconnects.
Nettie Hulme hosts the wonderful hour-long, free, active hope session on zoom every Sunday 5-6pm: "Falling in Love with The World". This is a facilitated, friendly check in to help get you ready for the coming week using the Active Hope framework - a practice of deep ecology.
If you would like to be involved in RIC's campaigns ...
If you are in Melbourne area, and would like to be active, reach out to the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group. MRAG is currently focused on the Ecuador Endangered campaign and research on environmental and human rights issues with Australian mining companies.
And to help us continue our work protecting rainforests and supporting the people who depend on them ...
Thank you for all that you do for the Earth in these challenging times,
John, Susie, Greg, Patrick and Liz
JUNE 2023 NEWSLETTER
It's only been two months since our last newsletter, and we'd thought maybe we would just do a brief update and an end of financial year appeal.
But, as it turns out, we've been pretty active for a small team of volunteers, and there's quite a lot of news on the various forest campaign frontlines.
So, we invite you to make a cup of tea and enjoy another bumper newsletter!
Ecuador campaign updates
Things are progressing at Los Cedros, though not without challenges.
There is still resistance in local communities to the 2021 court ruling - from people who were offered well paying jobs by the mining companies.
The new locally-based Management Committee is hard at work defining the reserve's legal status. The Ministry of Environment, who has a pro-mining agenda, has not made this process easy.
The judges who wrote the ruling have visited several times, and are pushing for legislation which will make the Rights of Nature precedent easier to apply in other cases.
If you're ever planning on a trip to Ecuador and want to visit this amazing place, check out the reserve's website here!
For campaign highlights and iNaturalist species lists, visit this site maintained by Melbourne Rainforest Action Group.
A camera trap at Los Cedros recently caught footage of a dancing Andean spectacled bear! Photo: Josef de Coux
Ecuador and Colombia anti mining groups join in assembly
In mid May a binational meeting was held for activists on either side of the Ecuador/Colombia border to discuss how to deal with increased problems with legal and illegal mining
90% of mining licenses in the northwestern Ecuadorian province of Carchi are owned by Australian company SolGold.
SolGold owns a massive copper project, Cascabel, which it wants to develop in the area. The company has criminalised dozens of peaceful community protesters in the area who don't want mining activities to wreck their agriculture.
Mining activity is impacting on the Indigenous lands of the Awá people, and on a tropical rainforest reserve (Cerro Golondrinas) in the world's most biodiverse hotspot, just north of Los Cedros.
Contaminated water from explorations and an influx of illegal mining is flowing into Colombia.
Visit the website of our sister group Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (MRAG) for more about Australian mining companies causing issues in Ecuador and other places.
Cahuasqui, a picturesque village sitting in SolGold's mining licence, surrounded by lush agricultural lands, cloud forests, mountain peaks and rivers. Photo: Liz Downes
Buenos Aires Legal Cases
Hanrine – subsidiary of Hancock Prospecting - is actively exploring several mining concessions in northwest Ecuador. Since 2019, Hanrine has been associated with violence, human rights abuses and environmental damage in the areas around the town of Buenos Aires, which sits on the only access road to the concessions.
In February, RIC designated part of a $US 15,000 grant donated by Australian pollinator conservation organisation Flow to support legal work for Buenos Aires.
The grant helped pay for the writing of two new legal cases. Both are based on the precedent of Los Cedros: rights of nature, rights to prior consultation, and rights to live in a clean environment.
One case has been accepted by the Constitutional Court and awaits a hearing date. The other hopes to establish that Hanrine's concessions (and by extension, every mining concession awarded in Ecuador since 2017) are illegal under Ecuador's constitution because communities were not consulted.
These funds have enabled lawyers to continue work to gain amnesty for local farmers and their families persecuted by the mining company, and to protect their rights to their own lands and water.
Visit this page to read more about the situation in Buenos Aires and how you can help!
"Mining is riches for Hanrine but blood and death for the people". Photo: BUPROE
Locals protecting pollinators in Intag - northwest Ecuador
Edy Quilca lives in Cazarpamba, Intag, in a mining concession owned by BHP. He leads a local group of "Guardabosques" (forest guards) who conduct citizen conservation projects.
Edy and his family (whose Indigenous Yumbo ancestors have lived here for hundreds of years) are creating a tourism enterprise, reforestation project and pollinator ark. Here is one of the species of native bees on their property!
Photo: Edy Quilca
Call for support for the Ecuador campaign and Rights of Nature!
People tend to ask us why we're currently focusing our resources on saving forests in Ecuador. After all, there are existential threats to environments everywhere ...
Ecuador is thought to be the world's most biodiverse country per hectare. It holds place in a shortlist of "megadiverse" countries including Australia, Brazil, the US, Colombia, Peru, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ecuador is also one of the only countries in the world with the legal frameworks in place to fight massive extractive destruction. It remains the only country to have enshrined rights for nature in its Constitution.
By helping Ecuadorian activists use these laws to protect forests and ancestral lands, we demonstrate that an "ecocentric" worldview - a worldview that puts humans as part of nature, not above it - can protect our planet and the lives of all of us who depend on clean food, air and water.
Indigenous people are also using their powerful political voice to win legal fights based on rights to prior consultation.
This can show us what is possible and necessary elsewhere. While the global climate and ecological emergency is worsening by the day, rights of Nature and Ecocide laws are being debated at international discussion tables.
Alongside this growing movement, grassroots networks are rising up to fight the creation of endless "sacrifice zones" - where ecologies and cultures are destroyed to feed the growth based economy.
If you have any contact with media who might be interested in any of the above, let us know. We are always up for more radio or podcast interview opportunities to get the word out
Environmental laws and political priorities need urgent transformation if we are going to save what’s left of our ecological and cultural landscapes. We need a new vision!
Pastaza River heading out into the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo: Liz Downes
Malaysia logging woes - SAVE Rivers Borneo
SAVE Rivers is a grassroots organisation working with several Indigenous communities in Sarawak, Borneo, to slow down the destructive impacts of logging that has been decimating forests here for many decades.
Last year, the group was hit with a particularly insidious form of lawsuit by one of Malaysia's biggest timber companies.
The SLAPP (Strategic Litigation against Public Participation) suit is a common tactic used by companies to silence and cripple environmental or social activist organisations. It is often based on claims of defamation against the company. In this case, SAVE Rivers and the communities it represents may be sued for upwards of a million dollars.
In May, RIC gave the group a $1000 grant towards transporting Indigenous land defenders to the first scheduled court hearing. The hearing was subsequently adjourned until later in the year, and SAVE Rivers is bracing for a protracted legal battle.
RIC has a long history supporting activists to fight Malaysia's corrupt timber industries, and we don't want to give up now. We are preparing a crowdfund to help gather some of the funds needed for this outrageous case. In the meantime, visit this link to take action!
Deforestation in Sarawak, Borneo. Image: National Geographic, 2015
Updates on Australian native forest battles ...
Some good news for Australia’s forests with the announcement that native forest logging will stop in Victoria at the end of this year. It’s a sign of the growing momentum to bring to an end this destructive industry.
However in NSW and Tasmania, one with a Labor Government and one with a Liberal Government, the felling of the forests goes on relentlessly, and with it the homes of dozens of endangered species like koalas, greater gliders, sphagnum frogs and glossy black cockatoos. But there is certainly a chink in the armour and we will do our bit to drive that chink into a chasm!
Susie and some of the Save Bulga Forest crew staged a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on World Environment Day to spotlight the ongoing destruction of a ‘Nationally Important Koala Area’ in Yarratt State Forest near Taree.
Save the Dates!
RIC committee members John Seed, Susie Russell and Greg Hall met up in Nimbin for the Day of Action, Politics and the Environment that was part of the 50th anniversary of the Aquarius Festival. Stories were told, songs were shared as were hugs for old friends.
John shared the story of Job Dudley Tausinga, who came from the Solomon Islands in 1982 seeking support from the Terania Rainforest Action Group, having seen a news story about the rainforest victory on the only TV in a pub in Honiara. And so began RIC’s international solidarity work.
He also told the story of the founding of Los Cedros in 1989, and the success of the Rights of Nature case over forty years later in 2021.
RIC is such a wonderful example of how you never know where your ripples will go, but they keep on going. So don’t lose hope or give up!
Upcoming Deep Ecology Events
John Seed will be next offering deep ecology weekends in Darwin June 16-18, and then in Kyogle, Narara, Melbourne and Tasmania: details here.
25% of the proceeds of workshops run by John and friends in 2023 is dedicated to Rainforest Information Centre projects and campaigns.
John Seed sings ‘Child of the Universe’, Cosmic Walk ceremony, Crystal Waters deep ecology workshop, May 2023. Photo: Eliana Cruz
And finally ... our End of Financial Year Appeal!
Would you like your tax deductions to support the urgent and ongoing protection of rainforests, and the people and creatures whose lives depend on them?
We are welcoming donations to support our main campaigns and projects in Australia, Ecuador and India. Any extra will help us continue to back the work of rainforest activists on other frontlines around the world!
For four decades we have run on volunteer action, with the lowest possible operational costs to keep ourselves viable as an organisation. We don't intend to change this any time soon.
For the Earth,
John, Liz, Susie, Greg and Patrick
APRIL 2023 NEWSLETTER
We hope you enjoy our quarterly newsletter for April. Here is a rundown of our campaign news and upcoming Deep Ecology events.
Ecuador: Another Rights of Nature case win!
Two weeks ago, an Ecuadorian provincial court ruled that a mining company must immediately cease works on their controversial Llurimagua copper project.
This huge open pit mine, if constructed, would destroy hundreds of hectares of cloud forests and waterways in the mountainous rural region of Intag.
The court stated that the company's environmental impact assessment, completed in 2014, was invalid. This marks a major milestone in the three year legal battle to stop the mine from going ahead.
Intag cloud forest
The case utilised the precedent set in December 2021, when Ecuador's Constitutional Court ruled to protect the Los Cedros Reserve - a spectacular tropical cloud forest in the same biodiverse region.
Since 2018 the Rainforest Information Centre and Melbourne Rainforest Action Group have been helping Intag with funds for community assemblies, scientific expeditions and legal costs.
Last year, one of these scientific expeditions discovered an entirely new species of frog in the area slated to be mined - named the "Resistance Rocket Frog" by local vote!
A young Resistance Rocket Frog. Photo by Carlos Zorrilla
Grant to support pollinator habitats in Ecuador
Over the past two years, the Rainforest Information Centre has partnered with Flow - a non profit social enterprise dedicated to educating about pollinators and protecting their habitat.
In 2022 a grant from Flow's program "Billions of Blossoms" went towards the essential work of securing permanent protection for Los Cedros Reserve following the court win.
In February, we were excited to receive a second grant from Flow, which was shared between three forest frontlines needing support in northwest Ecuador.
These were Los Cedros (towards completion of the new management plan); the community of Buenos Aires (towards the resistance against Australian mining company Hanrine), and a conservation organisation in Intag (towards training citizen scientists in water monitoring and identification of endangered species within mining concessions).
Orchid and iridescent bee, Los Cedros. Photo provided by Jose deCoux
We are continuing to raise another $20,000 this year towards our work particularly in the northwest of Ecuador. The main priorities are supporting two more important legal cases against mining, and providing resources for community organisations to protect activists from criminalisation.
|To support us with our Ecuador work, donate here!|
Forests in NSW, is there any hope?
By Susie Russell
A small temporary reprieve in my own little patch, with the suspension of logging in an area of Bulga State Forest that triggered 3 months of intense opposition in at least 6 forests. We suspended our camp in response, and are looking at our next steps towards seeing the public native forests of NSW protected from further degradation.
Last week a few of us went for a drive through an area of Bulga State Forest that is being planned for more logging. It was depressing. The previous logging, maybe 20 years ago removed so much of the canopy, that what is left can only be described as degraded. The idea that it will be logged again and all the ‘merchantable’ trees removed is heartbreaking.
Despite the NSW Government changing a month ago from conservative to Labor, so far in the forests, there is no change. There is a promise that some forests near Coffs Harbour will be protected as part of a Great Koala National Park, but in the meantime, the logging continues.
Readers of this newsletter are well aware of how urgent it is that we stop the destruction of at least the public native forests. It seems the decision makers have forgotten the extent and devastation of the fires only 3 years ago. So many animal populations have not recovered and might not do so for decades. Important habitat components, particularly old trees with hollows, are now becoming scarce.
That necessarily means the animals that depend on those hollows are declining in number, many now in danger of extinction.
We will continue our efforts, and hope they result in some forests being saved from the chop, and some of the unique Australian animals: gliders, quolls, owls, pademelons, frogs, potoroos, koalas, cockatoos etc will find homes, mates, and be able to successfully breed into the future.
|Click here for ways to support NSW's forests!|
Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (MRAG) Updates
In March, MRAG cohosted a fundraising event called "Stories of Resistance" with anarchist educational arts group, the Beehive Collective. The event, held at Black Spark cultural centre in Northcote, brought forth voices from frontlines in Latin America, with a focus on Mesoamerica and the communities resisting mining in Ecuador.
Visit MRAG's website for our reports, maps and media on Aussie mining companies behaving badly in Ecuador: - including a new investigation of copper company Jiangxi, who has investments in major new projects in Ecuador on top of a horrific environmental track record in China and other parts of the world.
Listen to this new Earth Matters interview with Ecuador Endangered coordinator Liz Downes on the Resistance Rocket Frog, Ecuador's anti mining campaign, and the international solidarity movement to end mining for "green renewables" in biodiverse areas and Indigenous lands.
MRAG's latest media release, about the link between natural disasters, deforestation and mining in Ecuador, was picked up by Green Left magazine.
Projects in India
The Rainforest Information Centre is proud to share a report from S. Santhi on the work that she has done over the last three years. This can be read here:
We are pleased that the $3000 RIC granted her in May 2020 has had such worthwhile results and are pleased to offer her another $4000 for her work going forward.
RIC Board members John Seed and Patrick Anderson have been friends with S. Santhi and her husband Sathish Chandran Nair since their rainforest roadshow of India in 1986 when they travelled the length and breadth of India by train carrying a 16mm copy of the Terania Creek film “Give Trees a Chance”.
The tour was organised by the Gandhi Peace Foundation and nearly every night they would pull into a new city or town and raise awareness of the importance of India’s and the world’s rainforests and the role of Gandhi-inspired non-violent direct action in saving many of Australia’s rainforests.
The Trivandrum gig was hosted by Santhi and Sathis who had spent their lives working for the rainforests and indigenous peoples of their home state, Kerala. They had been instrumental in saving the Silent Valley rainforest which was finally declared a National Park in 1985 after a 7-year struggle.
RIC went on to support their work many times in the intervening decades including, most memorably, the successful campaign in 2009 to protect the last remaining population of wild Asian Elephants. See “Long Live the Elephants”, the 4-minute film we made for that campaign.
John Seed will raise $2000 towards our pledge to S. Santhi via upcoming Deep Ecology workshops.
Deep Ecology - Upcoming Events with John Seed and friends
The late Professor Arne Naess proposed that ecological ideas won’t be enough to save us; what is required is ecological identity, ecological self. To nourish our ecological identity, he claimed, we need “community therapies” .
“… we must find and develop therapies which heal our relations with the widest community, that of all living beings. “
RIC founder John Seed has been developing and offering such therapies for over 35 years.
Hear John describe this work in his recent podcast with Tyson Yunkaporta.
In 2023 he is offering a series of experiential deep ecology weekend workshops synchronous with the ceremonies and rituals whereby all indigenous communities maintain and honour their felt sense of connection with the more-than-human world.
Upcoming workshops are in Melbourne, Sunshine Coast, Kyogle, Sydney and Darwin, with 25% of proceeds to Rainforest Information Centre projects. Places tend to fill up quickly, so if you're interested in going to one in your area, visit this page to check out the schedule and book your spot!
John and his colleague, Skye Mandozay, will also be hosting a Work That Reconnects “Conversation Café” on Experiential Deep Ecology on Sunday May 7 from 9 till 11am.
"We are Earth" image generated by Connor McGillion
Our growing Deep Ecology network
There has been a renaissance of interest in Deep Ecology over the past three years - with more and more workshops being filled around Australia, and groups of people springing up who want to continue to practice and facilitate this work.
The most active networks are growing in Victoria and Tasmania, following the success of recent workshops near Naarm/Melbourne and on Bruny Island.
If you live in these areas and would like to connect and find out more, here are a couple of facebook pages you can join:
Visit the Australian deep ecology network website
Learn more about the international Work that Reconnects community
|Donate here to help us keep saving forests!|
Thanking you all for everything you do for our planet,
For the Earth,
John, Susie, Liz, Patrick, Greg and the rest of the team
January 2023 Newsletter
We have so much news that we're getting in early for the new year, with our first 2023 newsletter! Starting with the most urgent thing first ...
We need your HELP to SAVE BULGA FOREST!
The fight to protect native forests and the habitat they contain has just got very close for two of RIC’s committee Susie Russell and Greg Hall. They live near the Bulga State forest, west of Port Macquarie on the mid-north coast of NSW, where logging started a few weeks ago. You can read some news about it here and here.
Susie Russell and Greg Hall set up the Trees Not Bombs Community Recovery Cafe in Lismore that provided free meals and beverages to all comers from March 9 to July 1.
The local community will do what they can to protect the forest from destruction, but they can’t do it alone. They have a great place to camp and there are roles for everyone from minding camp and making food and cuppas to swinging in the trees.
Locals in solidarity with Santa, who was perched on the tree platform in the background, tied off to a log blocking the access road to the logging machines.
If you heard the words of the Secretary General of the United Nations that we urgently need to Stop the War on Nature, and want to do your bit… then the Bulga Plateau is the place to be in January 2023.
The logging of Bulga Forest is destroying the homes of Koalas and Greater Gliders that are already in danger of extinction. It is wrecking the upper catchment leading to downstream erosion, landslips, and muddying of the creeks and rivers. It removes the most effective carbon capture and storage technology we have- trees, in a time where we most need to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Bulga Forest recovering after fire use
It is sheer madness for these trees to be falling in 2023. So come camping and help us keep the forest standing!
If you can’t come you can:
Follow and share our posts on @SaveBulgaForest on Facebook
Tweet using the hashtag #SaveBulgaForest #StandUp4Forests
Post clips/photos of yourself on other social media holding up signs with that message.
Donate: The local Bulga Food Club is accepting donations to assist people to pay fines incurred while taking part in the collective action to #SaveBulgaForest. If you'd like to donate, here are the details: BSB 062 623, Account number 1002 7655, Reference #SBF
The time is NOW. Nature can’t wait. When it’s gone it’s gone, there is no second chance. There is no PLANET B!
Ecuador Campaign Updates ...
Visit of judges to Los Cedros
In October 2022, Los Cedros hosted two of the judges who decided in favour of the Rights of Nature at the Constitutional Court – Agustín Grijalva (who presided over the writing of the ruling) and Ramiro Avila.
These amazing humans had a great time at the reserve, along with a diverse group of local and international supporters. Several important meetings were had, as well as fun. It was agreed by all present that urgent priority must be given to amplifying the importance of the court win, with regard to the national and international precedents that it has set.
Judges enjoying the waterfall
Over 2023 the judges will work closely with the reserve's management team to ground this ruling in practical reality - thereby setting another level of precedent, proving that the rights of Nature, of communities to clean water, and of prior consultation can withstand the pressures of political corruption and corporate interests.
This means supporting local communities to participate in the economic opportunities that Los Cedros has to offer, and ensuring that government agencies and mining companies stick to their legal obligations.
Judges with international team at Los Cedros
Getting ready for business
Visitor numbers to Los Cedros were profoundly impacted through 2020-21 during the triple blow of the pandemic, civil unrest in Ecuador, and the mining threats.
The reserve is currently undergoing maintenance works, so it can get back to hosting larger numbers of visitors and stand on its own two feet following the court win.
RIC crowdfunded $15,000 for these works, and we recently received impressive photos of the team’s progress, including this new footbridge across the Los Cedros river - built to last another 30 years.
Support of Waorani community with land rights and ecotourism work
The Waorani community of Ñoneno, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, has been developing projects to protect their territory from threats including oil exploitation, poaching and colonisation. RIC has a long history with the leaders of this struggle for autonomy. In the 90s RIC volunteers helped the Waorani with a massive project of demarcating their ancestral lands.
In June, we provided $1000 for a laptop for community leader and old friend of RIC, Nanto Huamoni. Nanto has been using it to collate and write coursework for Ñoneno’s ecotourism and cultural education projects.
In November, we crowdfunded another $500 towards maintenance for the community’s remote tourism lodge in preparation for their first large group of visitors in January 2023. Next year RIC hopes to raise funds towards solar panels for the lodge and Ñoneno.
Waorani leader, Alicia Cahuiya, with a rare tree marked to be cut down within an area gazetted for oil exploitation near Ñoneno
Partnership with Billions of Blossoms Initiative set up by Flow Hive
Earlier in 2022, Flow’s Billions of Blossoms provided a $10,000 grant to support Los Cedros, with all its pollinator richness. This has been gratefully used by the reserve’s team for community meetings, and legal costs for future-proofing the reserve’s boundaries in line with the new Management Plan.
In 2023 RIC is looking towards a partnership with Flow for support of other mega-biodiverse parts of Ecuador and potentially elsewhere.
One of Ecuador's 4000 known species of orchids - a plant family which contains an enormous amount of endemism and symbiotic relationships with insect pollinators, barely touched by scientific research.
Field research trip in Ecuador
In October-December, RIC’s Ecuador campaign coordinator, Liz Downes, took a field trip. Travel costs were supported by RIC, Melbourne Rainforest Action Group and a generous donor. The trip was a two month whirlwind, visiting activist groups and communities all over the country who are impacted by transnational (and particularly Australian) mining companies.
This was physically and mentally exciting and challenging. In Ecuador, it’s possible to gain or lose 3000 metres of altitude in a single day. Also not to be underestimated is the diversity of transport methods: bus, 4WD, cattle truck, mule, canoe, foot, or any combination in one journey!
Alpine "páramo" grasslands at 3,800 metres above sea level - one of the most ecologically important landscapes in Ecuador, providing carbon storage and habitat for hundreds of rare and endemic plant, insect and bird species, and the water source for rivers running to the coast and Amazon basin.
It was wonderful to meet up with so many resourceful and passionate people across Ecuador - some old friends, some new - who are dedicated to protecting their lands, waters, livelihoods, and ecosystems for future generations of all forms of life.
With serious fundraising, RIC intends to support at least two emerging new legal cases in 2023, and continue to help communities and collectives on the ground with their mobilisation, education and conservation efforts.
The community of Buenos Aires, northwestern Ecuador, gathers to send a public rejection of Australian-owned mining company, Hanrine
For more information visit our campaign page here.
Visit the website of our team at Melbourne Rainforest Action Group here for maps, reports and media releases about Australian mining companies in Ecuador and solidarity work in Australia.
Donate: Between 2018-2022, we have sent nearly $120,000 to Ecuador's frontlines who are defending their communities, waterways, biodiversity and human rights against the mining onslaught of extraction and greed.
This fundraising has happened by people power - through events, deep ecology workshops, small grants and crowdfunds. To get us off to a good start with our work in Ecuador in 2023, visit our current campaign crowdfund (donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia with a minimum donation $10) or contact us if you want to make a bank transfer.
RIC has continued to support two of our longtime colleagues in India - The Forest Way, reforesting the sacred Mountain Arunachala, and Sadhana Forest (both in Tamil Nadu); and S. Santhi, an amazing woman who is running a project empowering Adivasi (Indigenous) communities in Kerala, in the far south of India. Please follow the links to read more about their work and see some photos.
Upcoming deep ecology workshops for 2023
John Seed’s has deep ecology workshops scheduled on the NSW Central Coast, Melbourne, Canberra, Tasmania, N Coast, Sunshine Coast and Darwin. 25% of proceeds to RIC projects.
Deep ecology proposes that underlying all of the symptoms of the environmental crisis is the illusion of separation between humans and the rest of the natural world.
Arne Naess, professor of philosophy at Oslo University who coined the term “deep ecology”, called for “community therapies” to move us from merely ecological ideas to “ecological identity.
The experiential deep ecology processes created by Joanna, Macy, John Seed and others are such community therapies, synchronous with the ceremonies and rituals used by all indigenous societies to honour “all our relations” and allow us to experience a profound felt sense of connection to the living Earth.
If you want to make a general donation to our public fund for campaigns and /or the small amount of operational expenses that we do have, you can do so in the following three ways:
a) by using our Donate Now button
b) through Paypal
c) contact us for our bank details
Best wishes to all of you for 2023 and thank you for everything you are doing to protect and love this precious home of ours,
For the Earth,
John, Susie, Greg, Patrick and Liz
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