Episode 8: The Rainforest Defending Itself (with Liz Downes)
Have you ever donated to “save the rainforest?” I remember placing a globe-shaped piggy bank on the secretary’s desk at my elementary school in about 1991. The Kids for Saving Earth club asked people to drop their spare change in, so we could buy a $25 acre of rainforest, and protect it “forever.”
It’s been eye-opening to connect with Liz Downes, a campaigner with the Rainforest Information Center in Australia. She works closely with John Seed, who has himself been devoted to rainforest protection since 1979. Liz is also a writer, and has been facilitating workshops based on the Work that Reconnects and Deep Ecology practices of Joanna Macy and John Seed for over 10 years.
The Rainforest Information Center recently supported a successful legal case in Ecuador, where the constitutional court announced their decision at the end of 2021: Los Cedros Reserve will NOT be open to mining. This was an area that was protected “forever” as a reserve, but had been opened to mining exploration in 2017. Wouldn’t this be counter to the “Rights of Nature” enshrined in Ecuador’s constitution? After years of activism and legal struggle, the court has ruled that yes, mining here would violate the Rights of Nature, and the reserve is protected once more.
I loved hearing from Liz, someone devoted to the day-in, day-out tasks of activism, championing “holding actions” to protect the Earth and all of us beings who live here.
Click Play above to hear her talk about:
- being an activist in “David and Goliath” type situations (local communities vs. mining corporations)
- how she is fueled somewhat by anger, and more deeply by love
- why, as John Seed said, human activists are “the rainforest defending itself”
- a problem with our tech solutions to the climate crisis: the need for copper, much of which is under indigenous homelands and some of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems
- why activists with so much common ground come to different conclusions about what’s most urgent
- Ecuador’s unique biodiversity, from the Andes, to the Amazon rainforest, to cloud forests
- issues with how mining companies interact with local communities
- and how the idea that “people are bad for the Earth” seems to overlook all the human beings who are not only living in a less destructive way, but all the human cultures that have ways of thinking that can contribute solutions to our ecological crises
How about you? I’d love to hear what “holding actions” or protections you are supporting. Share them in the comments below. Have you listened to the episode? We’d love to hear what you’re thinking.
Support the Rainforest Information Center’s work in Ecuador here:
Read more about Los Cedros here:
And check out these four photos from the extraordinary place Liz loves so, Los Cedros Reserve in Ecuador: