In Memoriam: Wolfgang Theuerkauf

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We are deeply saddened by the passing away of Wolfgang who established the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary in 1981 and was completely devoted to life and what is life giving. Over the decades he has worked tirelessly at creating living conditions to the threatened, rare and endemic species of the Western Ghat rainforest. Not just saving many species of plants and thereby the animals that depend on them, but the very microclimates they need by developing methods of ecosystem gardening. He and his team have done what many would have thought impossible. Wolfgang made absolutely no concessions; plants come first and he remained at the cutting edge of conservation and plant-ecology throughout his work.

Wolfgang as inspired many people to follow their own dreams. We have supported his work and the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary for over 20 years. The loss is profound, but life has established itself in the Sanctuary and all it’s amazing lifeforms now speak for him.

Here is a link to an article in the Hindu on his passing away.

A Seventh Generation fire was lit in honour of Wolfgang by his friends in the Netherlands.

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From This Wounded Forest

Suprabha Seshan is a spokeswoman for the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary and all its inhabitants. She is terrified by the relentless destruction of natural systems. And has written this dispatch from a wounded forest

I wrote this one night at 3:00 a.m. I’d been awakened by the sounds of the forest, and a powerful dream. A question arose: if I had only one chance to write something what would it be?

 

The peg this piece hangs on is the notion of human supremacy.

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Elephants in my forest are revolting, as are fungi, and plants, and the great planetary winds, and everyone else still wild and free, as are the indigenous people in the forests of central India, adivasis. Anyone with half a brain, who is half alive, can hear the unmistakable roar of life, including, the cells in our own bodies.

 

She identifies a mistaken notion of intelligence as a driver behind the destructive relationship between humans and the living environment they are part of:

Animals and plants in my forest home offer the sweetest response to questions of: where and what is intelligence?

 

Intelligence, they say, flows from the personal to the personal, it is known, experienced and lived through the personal, and enacted through the personal. It goes from this elephant, to that tree, to that  bird, to that valley, to that river, to this land, to this sea.

 

It is deeply  personal to each of my white blood cells, to each of the trillions of  bacteria in every gut, to every vein in every body, every enzyme in every gut, every tree in every forest, and every star in every galaxy. Intelligence, they say, in fact, requires the personal, the beloved, and the rooted. It requires you and me. The last thing we need to do, in this last hour, is prove or measure or debate it or put dollar values on it, or bottle it up for posterity. Just listen to your body.

 

Before I die, and more importantly, before the forests are vanquished, I believe we are required to engage directly with the truly intelligent members of the universe, those who have figured out how life supports life, and how death supports life, how death doesn’t lead to immiserated oceans, and toxified air, and collapsed forests, and extirpated tigers, and devastated humans; and how intelligence and life are to each other how the wave is to a particle, or a river to water molecules, or blood to every cell.

 

And I believe that love, beauty, real life, and a vibrant planet are born from this, wholly.

for the whole dispatch visit: Scribd

God’s Own Gardeners

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An article has appeared in one of the leading Indian magazines entitled God’s Own Gardeners! (Suprabha adds that not all of the numbers quoted are correct.)

Read it here: God’s Own Gardeners by Akshai Jain

 

Ecological Restoration

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John speaking from the Sanctuary.

This week activist and documentary film-maker John D. Liu visits the Sanctuary with Maryan Klomp. John is a strong advocate of ecological restoration and aims to set up training and research centers on all continents to act as a vanguard for restoring functional ecosystems. Here is a 5 min introduction to his work:

Rainforest Etiquette #2

We proudly invite you to an open conversation with Suprabha on habitat restoration.

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Suprabha Seshan is ecologist and educator at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary, in the Western Ghat mountains of Kerala, India, dedicated to the preservation of plant species, restoration ecology and environmental education.They find, protect and grow the most horticulturally challenging and endangered plant-species. For 35 years they have been tirelessly accumulating plants and developing the sensitivity to garden back the biosphere; to nurture species, habitats and human sensibilities. The team including local indigenous women has produced results many regarded as impossible; reestablishing habitats and microclimates for several thousands of plantspecies and thus also for animals.

Suprabha has spent 20 years living and working intertwined with the lives of the plants, animals and humans of northern Kerala and the two contrasting aspects of nature that ecosystem gardeners work with: resilience and fragility. The whole forest and its myriad beings can indeed return, but only with the right kind of help. This is critical: with the right kind of help, the whole forest, and all its beings, grows outwards again.

 

From 18 until 23 march 2013 she will be visiting Amsterdam and Wageningen. For more information about dates and venues see program. Places are limited.

News from the Sanctuary

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 Whitley Award

A lot is happening at the Sanctuary this year!

Great news this summer, Suprabha Seshan and the Sanctuary have been awarded continuation funding from the Whitley Awards organization, only given to winners who have proven to be truly exceptional. 

“In this way, we enable the continued growth of projects where outstanding contributions to conservation are being made and creating lasting impact.”

For more information see WhitleyAward.org

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Lectures

Suprabha’s lecture tour to the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland, and the US was intense and exhausting, but reached a large and varied audience. Speaking to such varying groups of conservationists, students and policy makers, each presentation was different.

This is a recording of the talk Suprabha gave at Brockwood park school in Hampshire England.


 

Website

In between planting an entire new hill-side to become another fully functional stretch of forest, the Sanctuary has been working on a new website to inform the world about their work. The site is still under construction, but can be previewed here: Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary

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Rainforest Etiquette

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Suprabha Seshan is ecologist and educator at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary, a forest garden in the Western Ghat mountains of Kerala, India, dedicated to the preservation of plant species, restoration ecology and environmental education. Suprabha is touring through Europe and the United States for a lecture series entitled: Rainforest Etiquette in a World Gone Mad based on two premises: that nature is primary and that the planet is in peril.

 Suprabha has spent 20 years living and working intertwined with the lives of the plants, animals and humans of northern Kerala and the two contrasting aspects of nature that ecosystem gardeners work with: resilience and fragility. The whole forest and its myriad beings can indeed return, but only with the right kind of help. This is critical: with the right kind of help, the whole forest, and all its beings, grows outwards again.

 The awful truth is that 93% of the Western Ghats are already destroyed. The remaining habitats are fragmented badly. Her talk will call attention to the vital beauty of these mountain forests and their precarious toehold in an India that annihilates the environment as its technocrats push for economic might. 

 The questions that drive the Sanctuary’s work echo through her presentation: What must we do to bring the forests back? What is it to listen to the natural world?  What do the plants have to say? Whom do we love?

 

On 16, 17, 18 october 2011 Suprabha will be speaking in Amsterdam, Wageningen and Velp to general and expert audiences. For more information about dates and venues see program. Places are limited.