KUCHLI, Christian





Forests of Hope: Stories of Regeneration (New Society $39.95)
Article



What the world needs now, is not just love, sweet, love. It needs hope, precious hope.
Christian Kuchli's inspirational Forests of Hope: Stories of Regeneration (New Society $39.95) looks at the struggles to support sustainable preservation, use and enjoyment of forests on a global basis.
In India, one man named Visheswar Dutt Saklani has planted 10,000 trees in the Himalayas to honour his brother as part of the Chipko Movement, founded in the 1970s. In China, 30 million hectares have been replanted since 1949 for the Great Green Wall project to counteract wind erosion.
In Thailand, following disastrous floods in 1989, the government decreed a nation-wide ban on timber felling. In Tanzania, on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Chaggi tribespeople have developed multi-storey tree gardens.
In Los Angeles a non-profit, non-governmental group called TreePeople has planted 1.5 million saplings to support reforestation of smog-damaged areas.
In Kenya, a collective of women in the Kitui district has formed 'Women Under the Acacia Tree', a rural solidarity movement that combats drought and hunger by growing trees.
The 'Women Under the Acacia Tree' have gradually learned reforestation methods in the semi-arid highlands, 230 kilometres north of Kilimanjaro, as instructed and supplied by Fred Kabare, a forester who travels by bicycle.
Prior to colonization by Europeans, every woman in the Kitui region had her own fields and commercial activities. Women hauled water, gathered fuelwood and traded with neighbouring tribes.
After present-day Kenya was made a British protectorate in 1895 and it became a crown colony in 1920, trees were no longer accessible to everyone. 'White Highlands', covering more than three million hectares, were settled exclusively by white Europeans. Women without trees of their own had to make long treks to gather firewoord for cooking.
Whereas the people of Kitui once regarded trees as gifts of God, foresters such as Fred Kabare have encouraged women to learn a scientific approach for regeneration. In an unforgiving terrain where more than half the women must bear the burden of supporting their families alone, this vital education process is undertaken by Kengo, an umbrella organization whose members include Kenya's non-governmental organizations concerned with energy and environmental issues.
Imagine Jack Munro of the Forestry Alliance of B.C. riding around the province on bicycle, delivering seedlings. Forests of Hope: Stories of Regeneration reveals how fortunated British Columbians are, and who stupid we might become.

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[BCBW 1998]