Thursday, 17 November 2011

Faithfully Green

On Tuesday I was listening to Saving Species on Radio 4. It's an interesting programme as it covers a hugely diverse range of conservation stories, both successes, current concerns and new breakthroughs. The programme I caught covered a suitably eclectic mix of stories.

The first article told the story of a bird, about the size of a sparrow, which is facing desperate times and a new project which hopes to act as a safety net. There are only a few hundred pairs of Spoon Billed Sandpipers left in the wild and these numbers are declining year by year. This week a group of these beautiful birds have been brought to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust headquarters in Slimbridge as the start of a captive breeding project. To read more about this incredible story have a look at my Dad's blog from Tuesday.

The second story was about a conference this week in Assisi, Rome (home town of the patron saint of the environment, St Francis). This was a unique meeting of worth faiths and the conservation community with the aim to inspire each other and discuss new ways of working together to protect and help the natural world. Great to see that people from very different backgrounds and beliefs can all work together towards one aim of a saver environment and better future for the next generation. The conference was organised by ARC the Alliance of Religions and Conservation.

Tony Juniper (previously CEO of Friends of the Earth and now special advisor to the Prince of Wales' Rainforest Project) talked about the combined power and potential of the world faith groups. The implication was of a new strong force to counter the current economic lobby of bigger, better growth at any cost.

It's true that when I think about it there are always a huge number of religious groups at the environment protests and marches I've been to in the past. And why not? Most world faiths have teachings of harmony with nature and a guardianship of the environment we have been given.

The conference launched the new Green Pilgrimage Network, supporting and promoting environmentally friendly ways to carry out religious pilgrimages across faiths and throughout the world. One example city is Amritsar, Punjab, India, home to the most sacred place in the Sikh faith, the Golden Temple, Harmandir Sahib.  Some of the steps the city has taken to meet the needs of the Network are to only supply organic and pesticide free food for pilgrims, to provide clean tap water removing the need to buy and carry plastic water bottles and they have also banned plastic bags. Impressive steps, even more so when you consider that 30 million visit the site on pilgrimage each year.

Another couple of points of interest in the programme were that it's National Tree Week soon and that the ispot project is still running. More on both of these in the coming weeks.

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