Humans often do not understand how much we depend on living trees. We cut them without shame or regret, failing to recognise what has actually fallen. What has fallen is the source of everything vital. And I do not mean only air. Everything that gives life will tumble when a tree is felled.
According to the Old Testament story, if you turn back to look at the fires of Sodom you will turn into a pillar of salt. In the age of forest wildfires, it is the other way around. Ignorance is not bliss— it is just ignorance. We must turn back and look at what is going on. Our house is burning. We must pluck the courage to act now if we want to salvage what is left.
Did you know that trees and humans evolved from a common ancestor? Two billion years ago, we were the same creature. The protist is neither animal, plant, nor fungus. Perhaps we forgot that trees and humans are related. We failed to remember that trees give us water, air, shelter, food, medicines—in a nutshell, life. And let us not forget that both trees and humans have branching vessels designed to carry life-giving substance. From the inside, we look almost the same. We are all veins and arteries. Animals and plants may have taken separate evolutionary paths, but we established an unbreakable reciprocity.
Humans breathe oxygen from plants. Plants breathe carbon from humans. That is an act of mutual benefit, like love.
Imagine a social world without food, perfumes, alcoholic drinks— without campfires, wood, furniture, paper— without linen and cotton and so without clothes. All of these things derive from plants. Our social universes would be inconceivable without plants and trees. We are much better people when we act like our sisterly and brotherly green ones. When we seek affection, we spray ourselves with scents and offer flowers to stimulate the chemistry of love. We pot plants and dig the earth for love. Givers of shade or shelter, trees are social places where people come together to picnic, to play, to sleep or perchance, like Buddha, to dream. Let us change the word altruism for altreeism. Let us change the word love for grove.
According to an ancient Roman myth, Virbius was a resurrected god who married Diana, the goddess of wilderness. Virbius became guardian of the goddess’s sacred grove at Nemi. Somewhere along the way, the commitment to guard the forest and the pledge of marital love between human and tree was lost. Why?
You too can join Guardians of the Forest, a transformational online course taught by 40 practitioners from 30 nations, designed to show you ways in which forests are being protected around the world. Guardians of the Forest will be delivered by indigenous leaders, activists, environmentalists, earth lawyers, journalists, artists and scientists, who can show you how to adopt a new lifestyle rooted to human and tree life.
Trees and humans divorced at some point in history. This year we are getting back together. You too can join the movement. You too can gain a somatic, cultural, spiritual and legal understanding of harmonious life. You too can join campaigns around the world to save some of the most iconic treescapes in the world, including the Amazon, the Boreal forest, the Great Siberian Forest and the Austral woods.
What will it take to change the way you live? Perhaps a seed of love, or a love for seed.
Guardians of the Forest is an online and bilingual course (English and Spanish). It will be delivered live and through videos pre-recorded in some of the most iconic forest biomes in the world. A three-month weekly course, Guardians of the Forest will run between the 3rd of May and the 11th of August 2021.
For more information and to book a place, please visit forestguardians.co
About the author
Born in Buenos Aires Argentina, Nicolás Salazar Sutil is a Chilean, Argentinian and British action researcher, author and creative practitioner. He is currently Associate Professor in Transformational Practices at the University of Leeds. He is also the founder and director of Forest Guardians NGO, and co-curator of global online course on forest guardianship Guardians of the Forest.