Dr. Margaret “CanopyMeg” Lowman’s update from her trip working to save the Church Forests of Ethiopia:
Our biodiversity team just attended a workshop of the Coptic (Christian Orthodox) priest leadership in Debra Tabor, Ethiopia — chaired by my local colleague, Dr. Alemayehu Wassie Eshete, and myself. I presented a visual lecture (with a very challenging electricity situation where we actually taped the wires together — my laptop may never survive this experience!). The priests TOTALLY get the ecological issues at stake — if their forests shrink beyond recovery, they will suffer amazing problems including lack of fresh water, no pollinators, absence (and extinction) of biodiversity, flooding and other episodes, and essentially a lack of the spiritual links between religion and trees (which they view as essential).
Here are some images of our partnership between religion and science. the outcomes include building stone walls around critical church forests (donations on this website!), hosting workshops to educate the religious community about the ecosystem services that church forests provide, and linking to some international organizations that can fund these walls in a timely fashion (Gates Foundation? UN? USAID? etc).