photo by CaptPiper
The Living Tree Educational Foundation is being founded with the following recognitions:
Recognition of the importance of living trees for human survival and how their absence features so prominently in current planetary crises.
A vast number of what are called ‘natural disasters’ are actually caused by humans, as the direct or indirect result of deforestation. Deforestation (coupled with devastating commercial forestry practices and the lack of appropriate tree-planting programmes) is causing droughts, floods, soil degradation and depletion, water acidification, the expansion of deserts, ecological refugees, atmospheric pollution, species extinction, rise of carbon dioxide and harmful gases, depletion of oxygen, and other aspects of climate change, all at an accelerating rate.
See Trees & Climate
As this becomes clear, the need for immediate appropriate responses becomes equally clear. This includes the need for programmes of education which are informative on these issues, which throw light on their causes, and which equip people so that they can respond creatively – globally and in the context of their local communities. As has been stated, but not sufficiently appreciated, “Trees and humans stand and fall together.” We cannot continue to practice ‘business as usual’. Our approaches to what we call ‘education’ need re-examining in their entirety. Not least, we need an education that is relevant to our planetary crises and to improving our capacities to respond effectively, individually and collectively, in local communities as well as nationally and internationally.
Recognition of the need to promote awareness of the values of living trees.
The lack of appreciation of the values of living trees leads to the devastating consequences stated above. An education on the subject is needed: one which promotes the emergence of aware and responsible citizenship, to help bring about appropriate concern and responses from all departments of local and national governments. There is also a need to promote knowledge on the value of trees in land-management and agriculture, which is dependent not only upon favourable climatic conditions (even on a field by field basis) but also upon continuing soil availability as well as its fertility.
Recognition of the desirability and increasing necessity of promoting self-sufficiency and resilience at local community and regional levels; and thus of the value of crop-bearing trees and shrubs to local economies.
This includes recognition of the need to promote the creation of orchards and forest-gardens (the most productive form of land use) as well as the need to provide the knowledge and skills-training required for their creation. Orchards and forest-gardens are needed throughout the countryside, across the nation. Accomplishing this will lead to a degree of national self-sufficiency and resilience, significant for the survival as well as health and economic strength of the nation (Ireland is an agricultural country, benefiting from a temperate climate, where no forest-gardens and virtually no orchards exist.)
Recognition of the sacredness of trees and how our survival as a species is dependent on regarding them so.
In 1990, two hundred and seventy scientific leaders from eighty-three nations signed a petition declaring: “We understand that what is regarded as sacred is more likely to be treated with care and respect. Our planetary home should be so regarded. Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment need to be infused with a vision of the sacred.” If trees are once again to be regarded as sacred, then this must become part of our education. For the Living Tree Educational Foundation this is a basic recognition, and will be in all its educational programmes.
See Sacred Groves
Recognition of the need for a more holistic approach to forestry.
There is need for a holistic (whole-system) approach to the planning, planting and management of forests and woodland areas. This approach, along with commercial aspects, would include consideration of the local eco-system and of the local community. It would be mindful of the needs of wildlife (flora and fauna) and the effects on soil, streams, rivers, and local water cycles. It would also consider the economic, recreational, cultural and spiritual needs of local communities, including people of all ages. This approach would result in the creation of multi-purpose forests that are not only commercially viable but are also Earth-, people-, and creature-friendly, enhancing life while generally serving the interests of all. Along with this is the recognition of the need for a new breed of forester and thus the need for a more holistic tree-related education.
Recognition of the need for a more holistic approach to the study of trees.
This includes an appreciation of the values of living trees, of the vital roles they play in all aspects of planetary life, of the immense range of their gifts to humankind, of the roles they play in human consciousness and cultures, and of the unique properties and qualities which each species of tree possesses.
It also includes recognition of the true nature of trees, not simply as organisms, as is understood biologically and in horticulture, but as fields of energy, which are also known to be fields of living energy; and, further still, fields of intelligent living energy, which can also be understood biologically and in horticulture. This is one of the core perspectives of those involved in bringing into being University of the Living Tree.
Recognition of the need to address the rural-urban imbalance.
The imbalance of rural and urban development has become a serious situation throughout the world. The current educational system prioritizes urban and industrial values. The University of the Living Tree aims to provide rural centres of education which meet the needs of rural cultures, lifestyles and economics.
The world-famous economist E.F. Schumacher stated in his classic work, Small is Beautiful: “The all-pervading disease of the modern world is the total imbalance between city and countryside – an imbalance in terms of wealth, power, culture, attraction, and hope.” While cities have become universal magnets and are becoming perilously dysfunctional and ultimately unsustainable, and rural life has become increasingly impoverished. This prevailing lack of balance threatens all countries throughout the world, the rich even more so than the poor. According to Schumacher, “To restore a proper balance between city and rural life is perhaps the greatest task in front of modern man.”
To address the rural-urban imbalance, we need rural-based centres of education which provide experiential and learning programmes relevant to living and working, thriving as well as surviving, in rural areas; which also contribute to our understanding of how best to live in life-enhancing ways which are in harmony with Nature.
In addressing the rural-urban imbalance through an initiative in education, the University is participating with many other initiatives in laying the foundations for the emergence of a new, more balanced civilization – a civilization which gives equal priority to the rural, including all of Nature, as it does to all things relating to the urban and industrial. Russell proclaimed: “The creation of a rural civilisation is the greatest need of our time,” but it needs to be founded on rural, and therefore also Nature-based, values. It is not achieved by bringing urban values or industrial approaches into rural areas.
Recognition of the seriousness of our disconnectedness from Nature, of the need to restore our connectedness through education, and therefore of the desirability of creating centres of education in Nature.
Not only children but adults are suffering from a condition now becoming widely known as nature-deficiency. This is proving to have severe consequences not only for individuals but for society as a whole, indeed for whole nations. Disconnectedness from nature, both mentally and emotionally, has become so extreme that catastrophic, life-destroying decisions are being made every day by people in authority who have no connection to nature. They reduce the abundance of life and complexity of natural relationships to abstract figures which do not reflect reality. These decisions are seriously affecting not only the life of Nature but the lives of all those who live close to Nature: rural communities numbering tens to hundreds of thousands of people. Ultimately, these decisions affect all whose survival is dependent upon Nature’s well-being, including ourselves.
It is clearly necessary for people at all levels of society to re-connect with Nature on all levels, and to intimately experience this connectedness. While there are known health benefits in doing so, Nature also provides an ideal educational environment – in stark contrast to what is provided in school-rooms for students of urban or suburban societies.
Recognition that there exist a whole range of intelligences (other than human) at work in Nature, and exploring the potential of working with these intelligences.
There have been many well-documented demonstrations of the existence of active intelligence in the natural world. There are also many projects which show the benefits of doing attuning to and working with this intelligence. See, for example, the incredible results of horticultural geniuses Luther Burbank & George Washington Carver, or those of the Findhorn Foundation and Perelendra Center. There is no other educational establishment in which trees are studied in the multidimensionality of their wholeness; and where students may explore their relationship with trees, indeed Nature as a whole, with such an awareness. This, and the practicalities of such knowledge, is a subject of specialized studies in the University’s Faculty of Tree Esoterics.
See Tree Esoterics