Reflorestar Portugal – A world where communities nurture life
Reflorestar Portugal received the invitation to write an article about the work it develops for the latest edition of Sowing Seeds Magazine, which has just been launched in June 2020. We thank Jessica Donham and the Sowing Seeds team for their interest and opportunity! Get to know them @ https://www.sowingseedsmagazine.com/
You can read the published article in our blog:
Reflorestar Portugal (Reforest Portugal) is an active citizen project that is seeking to impact socio-environmental and economic changes to regenerate communities and ecosystems.
As a result of the habits and modus operandi of contemporary society, Nature doesn’t have time and space to heal. The socio-economic structures which impose adverse pressures on natural resources, on biodiversity, and on human well being need urgent change. We are on the verge of the 6th mass extinction due to “business as usual.” In order for the world to have a deep and lasting paradigm shift, it is essential that our personal, local and global awareness expands to understand how our inner and outworlds are interwoven with Nature. Individual, family, community, ecosystem and biosphere health is hindered if humanity doesn’t undergo a profound healing process. It’s vital to re-program the status quo into one that serves all beings and promotes life by rethinking our interactions with the natural world.
Society is an organism whose tissue is composed of individuals. The process of global change starts by honoring and supporting the spiritual and emotional health of these individuals, as well as adapting our social structures to meet theirs and Nature’s needs. It’s a process of both self awareness and community building. We need to acquire technical and social skills through which we can relearn how to interact with Nature and with the people around us, while becoming active catalysts for regeneration through collaboration. We need to move from a paradigm of competition and “survival of the fittest” to one based on cooperation and unconditional love. These are the syntropicprinciples of the universe.
Reflorestar Portugal began its journey after the wildfires of 2017, which destroyed around 500,000 hectares and killed over 100 people in Portugal. Our first step was to diagnose the impact these events had on the land and then to understand what was being done to promote the regeneration of local communities and ecosystems. What we ended up realising, is that although there were a few projects experimenting with sustainable restoration, most people didn’t know one another and felt isolated, even unsupported in their endeavours. Most of them struggled with resource scarcity and lack of knowledge on how to recuperate natural habitats. Thus, the need to implement a path to support and facilitate the transition, towards collaborative and regenerative cultures within Portugal became evident.
One of our main strategies is to empower local resilience by connecting individuals and communities with one another, giving them tools to collaborate efficiently and capacitating them through Permaculture, Agroecology and Syntropic Agroforestry. These systems have proven to promote food sovereignty and a resilient circular economy, based on local and sustainable resources. They demonstrate the possibility of producing food, while regenerating natural ecosystems within a fair social structure.
Our first endeavour was the Gathering for the Forests: A bi-annual collaborative, hands on work event, facilitated by professionals specialized in Social Technologies (Dragon dreaming, Open Space Technology, U theory, World Café, Sociocracy) designed to create a sense of belonging that cultivates participatory and democratic citizenship. All participants become involved in co-creating solutions to the arising issues. The mantra is “together we know more than each one of us!” A network of relationships is woven, which strengthens the bonds between projects and people who are motivated and driven to transition towards collaborative and regenerative cultures. A community with one voice is created through these dialogues—enabling clear discourse with political decision-makers. The 3rd edition of the gathering is scheduled for spring 2021.
We aim to continue “multiplying the multipliers,” by sharing tools for personal, social and economic transformation, to further connect and expand the network of projects and communities that are actively working with the land, generating food, promoting healthy ecosystems and caring for water and soils.
Navigating through contemporary society is challenging, it tends to disconnect us from one another, creating the fruitless binary of “us and them”—which maintains the status quo. In Nature, successful communities, such as Forests, thrive through cooperation and symbiotic relationships of mutual-benefit. Let us remember that as human-beings our nature is community driven.
So what can you do to help establish regenerative cultures which sustain general health for all beings?
Through eating locally and getting your friends and neighbors engaged in growing food together, you can promote local resilience through community bonds. Get to know the people who make your food and how their production methods impact ecosystems, communities and environmental health.
Support circular economies—reduce methane and CO2 emissions by composting and transforming waste into fertilizer! Did you know that 65% of all the waste in landfills is biodegradable? Don’t have a composter? Join local composting initiatives, where you can dispose of your scraps and strengthen community. You can find many such initiatives around the world at https://sharewaste.com.
Participate in bio-diverse reforestation actions that assure tree survival with post-plantation care. Forests are essential for the stability of water cycles, the livelihood of many creatures who support entire ecosystems.They also absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
Find local environmental and grassroots associations and connect with people who are engaged in regenerative action. Deepen your knowledge and skills, share resources and information—and above all, get involved: nurture the sense of community and generate fields of empathy.
Here’s to Reforestation!
Written by Marina Nobre & Mariana Dias da Cunha