The peoples of the forest fight back

The Size of Herefordshire has long been concentrating on aiding the indigenous people who live in the great Amazn rainforest in their fight to protect their lands.  In particular, we have been helping the Wampi people and the Awajun people of the forest in north eastern Peru.   Indigenous people own a quarter of the world's land and evidence shows that they are the best protectors of the land.

So it was with particular pleasure that we read that at the end of August indigenous leaders from Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Suriname and Venezuela met in Bogata and called for the consolidation of "the biggest environmental and cultural corridor in the world to unite protected areas with indigenous territories, recover degraded areas and promote the sustainable use of the forest."   Forest of course means that extraordinary Amazon rainforest of 200 million hectares which runs from the Andes to the Atlantic.  

The indigenous leaders called on governments of the region to "weave alliances and commitments to promote, protect and make visible the Andes-Amazon-Atlantic Corridor, its biodiversity, its cultures and the sacredness of its territory,"

One indigenous leader, Tuntiak Katan, put it well; "For us the Amazon basin is sacred.  Some say it's the lungs of the world.  For us it is the heart of the world and in this heart we find an immense concentration of biodiversity and cultural diversity.  Yet it's here that they're pushing ahead with more extractive and industrial activities."

In short, the forest is up against voracious late-form capitalism, in which the only bottom line is the return to shareholders.  

The summit was financed by small donations from Avaaz subscribers.

 

Great things come in pairs

Two wonderful things have happened to the Size of Herefordshire in the past few days.

First, the Size of Herefordshire has secured the Holy Grail of all fund-raising organisations: match-funding.   Our inestimable inspirers, the Size of Wales agreed at the beginning of May to match-fund all the future funds that we raise for the Forest Peoples Programme.   This is a great advance for us  - and great generosity by the Size of Wales.  It ought to make fund-raising that vital bit easier... being able to tell a potential donor that any money they donate will doubled is a juicy carrot...and a real help to us.   Our deepest thanks go to the Size of Wales.

 Second, and by no means second, one of our supporters, Will Bugler, ran in the marathon at Nantes, raising for the Size of Herefordshire.  Will first set his target at £1000, but quickly surpassed that and raised it to £1,500. Then he raised it again to £2000, and then £2500.   By the time he went past the finishing post in the very respectable time of three hours 14 minutes (on a very hot day), he had gone well past £2,500.  With Gift Aid, he has secured for the Size of Herefordshire over £3000.    

This is by some way the largest sum ever donated or collected for us.   In land terms, over 6000 hectares of Herefordshire have now been blocked in on our interactive map, protecting at least the equivalent area in the rainforest of north-east Peru.

Many many thanks and congratulations to Will... and many thanks too to all you generous people who supported him.  We are deeply indebted - and a good way further onto to our target.

Wisdom from the Rainforest

Size of Herefordshire supporters gave a generous welcome to an inspiring leader from the Wampis indigenous people of the Peruvian rainforest.   It was the least we could do: Shapiom Noningo Sesen was hugely impressive..  He spoke to us quietly, calmly, gently, imparting wisdom as much as knowledge.   Film-maker Dan Haworth-Salter, who visited and filmed in the rainforest of the Wampis Nation last year on behalf of the Size of Herefordshire, spoke at the welcome meeting for Shampion of the novel experience at finding that when he asked questions to Wampis leaders, the answers he got were direct and unadorned.  There was none of the calculation and spin that he had experienced when interviewing Western politicians.

So it was with Shampion, effectively the foreign minister of the Wampis nation.    In answers to questions, Shampion spoke frankly of how the Wampis would still have to use the rainforest once they have full control of it, but not for mining or oil, but sustainably, organically.   He spoke of the difficulties of working with national government.  In Peru as well as all Latin America, government is corrupt and makes corrupt decisions.  One corrupt tactic in Peru is the Government declaring an area of the rainforest a "conservation area", after token consultation with the forest peoples. Perversely, this conservation area has rules which then make it much easier for the government to allow in mining and petroleum companies.

The message from Shampion though was upbeat; " I am one hundred percent optimisitic"  that the Wampis will be able to protect their rainforest territory, he said in Spanish,  very ably translated  by Anna Campbell.   He plainly appreciated the efforts of NGOs like the Forest Peoples Programme and fund-raising groups such as the Size of Herefordshire.  Money raised by us has funded a vital boat, with a powerful engine.  The boat, named The Hereford, is deployed in ferrying Wampis leaders to meetings which they hold to progress the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation, the declaration made last year that is so vital to success in protecting their territory.   Shampion reminded the gathering that the Wampis people had been fighting for their territory for centuries, going back to the time of the Incas.  "We know well how to fight" he said,

The gathering was also treated to an excellent 15 minute film on the Wampis' struggle by Dan Haworth-Salter, that he is making for the Forest Peoples Programme for advocacy.    The film was both informative and moving, featuring a number of Wampis people, men and women, relating the meaning of the rainforest to them and their determination to protect it..  The Size of Herefordshire website will shortly have a 5 minute version of this film included on it.

After the meeting, Shampion got a short conducted tour of the centre of the Hereford.  He may have been surprised that Hereford Cathedral at 5.30 on a Sunday evening was closed.  He was though undoubtedly impressed by the City's statue in St Peter's square: the muscular Hereford bull.   "Ah, Toro" he said.  "Muy bien."

Rainforest leader comes to Hereford!

One of the leaders of the Wampis, the indigenous people who are superbly resisting the loggers and miners in their part of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, is coming to Hereford this Sunday, February 18th.   Shapiom Noningo Sesen Bio will be welcomed by Size of Herefordshire supporters gathering at De Koffee Pot on Hereford's Left Bank, close to the old Bridge.  Shapiom has been a prominent leader within the Amazonian indigenous movement for many years, from the community level right up the national organisation which represents the forest people of the Peruvian Amazon.  In the Consejo Aguaruna Huambisa (the Council of the Awajun and Wampis people, Shapiom has played a huge role in defending the land and the social and cultural rights of the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.   And we just need to constantly remember two facts:   the destruction of the rainforest causes more carbon dioxide release than all the world's transport in a year.... and as Naomi Wolf has said, the best defenders of the rainforest are its people.   Shapiom is one of those best defenders.

From between 3.00 and 5.30, we will be proud to welcome Shapiom.

 

See the film that has taken France by storm.

A positive film about the environment is a blessing; a positive one about climate change a double blessing.   The French film Demain is both of these, a feel-good and constructive film that has been an immense success in France.  Now the Size of Herefordshire is bringing Demain to Herefordshire with a special screening at Ledbury's Market Theatre.   We will also be showing a short film by Dan Haworth-Salter about the Wampis, the forest people of the Peruvian rainforest which the Size of Herefordshire is doing a lot to help in their fight to keep the loggers and miners from their ancestral forests.   Dan will introduce his film, which will be followed by Demain.

The screenings are in Friday February 16th at 8.00.   Come and be cheered up!

Events, Proofs, Successes

More events to raise funds for the Wampis and Awahun indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest in Peru are brewing.   Last week, we raised over £400 when about 80 people came on a dark cold night to listen to the geologist Dr Paul Olver deliver fascinating revelations about the landscape of our county.   The listeners will surely never forget that there are lumps of rock in Herefordshire that were once in the south Atlantic. that the first Ice Age ended on the line on the M4 and the second Ice Age on the line of the A49 and that 19th century landowners spent vast sums sinking shafts through the Herefordshire's red sandstone in the search of coal.  They found schist, which could spelled another way,

This coming weekend, the Hay Winter Festival features two walks, organised by the excellent Woodland Trust.  Tickets for both are already sold out which may be good news for the Size of Herefordshire, since the Trust has kindly agreed to hand out some of our flyers and leave a bucket around for donations.

We are also planning to hold a fund-raising showing of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel, the successor film to his revelatory An Inconvenient Truth on climate change.   Our hope is to show this in Hereford.  Watch this space.

Asking people, not least good people, for support is never easy.  One estimable person said to us recently  "Oh God, do we have to worry about climate change?"   I am sure the Almighty muttered "you do, my dear, you do."   Another at the same event doubted whether the approach of the Forest Peoples Programme in giving land rights to the indigenous people of the forests was the right one.  Indeed, he said it wasn't.

Well, it's good to report of a study by researchers of the Peruvian Amazon .   They analyzed campaigns to give land rights where more that 1,200 indigenous communities over 11 million hectares have received title to their land since the mid-1970s.  They used data from high-resolution satellite images to estimate the effects of titling between 2002 and 2005 on forest clearing and disturbance.  The results indicates that titling reduces forest clearance by more than three quarters and forest disturbance by roughly two thirds in a two year period after the indigenous peoples got the rights to their land.    The research was carried out by Allen Blackman, Leonardo Corral, Eirivelthon Santos Lima, and Gregory P. Asner and can be seen on www,pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1037/pnas.1603290114.

Given that destruction of the rainforest is causing more co2 emissions than all forms of transport in a year, appreciating the value of giving the forest people the rights to their land is a key insight.   The Size of Herefordshire is on the right track.

So are the Wampis and Awajun.  They are success stories .  They are holding on to their land and repelling invaders.   The Peru High Court judgement in March 2017 which found that petroleum companies had illegally invaded their land was a historic victory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Landscape of Herefordshire

The land above is lovely but what about the land below?  The geology of Herefordshire that has created this fascinating county?  All below will be revealed when geologist Dr Paul Olver talks on Thursday November 16th at Clifford Community Centre.   A very entertaining speaker, Dr Olver will talk of how the early geologists of the county were driven by a fascination with fossils and in their pursuit discovered much more.  He will reveal why the large  landowners in the county were hugely disappointed when they dug down through our red sandstone looking for riches... And just what does the A49 road demarcate?

Dr Olver talked at this year's Hay Festival in a tiny tent so few could hear him.  November 16th is a new chance.   His illustrated lecture starts at 7.30 and tickets are £6 including a glass of wine or soft drink.  Tickets at the door or call Jenny Bullough to reserve a place on 01497 831416 or email her on jennybullough@hotmail.com. 

All proceeds go to the Size of Herefordshire..

Two grand Herefordshire schools

Our project to save rainforest has just been aided by two fantastic Herefordshire primary schools, teachers, children and parents alike.   Connected to this year's Go Green Day, Leominster Primary School - in the handsome and much under-rated town of Leominster - and Stretton Sugwas Primary School both ran inventive and very productive fund-raising campaigns for us.  Leominster had a no-uniform day, asking the children to come in wearing green and to bring a little collection.   Not so little: they raised just about £400. 

Impressively, Stretton Sugwas Primary School, which lies not far from Hereford, raised the same amount and had some very clever fund raising ideas.   One of them was a 1p and 2p competition, the class with the most pennies getting a trip to the National Trust Weir Gardens just down the road.   The emptying out of lots of piggy banks alone produced £180.  Also, the school's Eco Committee organised a Toy Sale and the PTA ran teas and cakes for sale. 

.We are hugely grateful to the schools, and not least the teachers who organised the collections. The success of these two school's action on our behalf is particularly pleasing to us... not just the money but also giving us the knowledge that the importance of protecting rainforest is getting through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Size of Herefordshire is swelling

Our campaign to protect the rainforest is gaining traction.   We've had two very successful recent events and some wonderful donations from schools and parents.

Our first event was at the Hay Festival, and it was both a sell-out and the subject of approval of people who attended.  Dan Haworth-Salter showed a short version of a film he is making about a trip he, Malcolm Bell and Conrad Feather made to the rainforest people were are supporting, the Wampis.   Cutting against the clock, Dan's film made a big impact, especially for the powerful ways in which individual Wampis people spoke of their predicament and their determination to protect their rainforest.  We are hoping that a taster of Dan's film will soon be on this website.

Dr Conrad Feather of the Forest Peoples Programme, the charity helping the Wampis, gave a succinct and powerful summary of the Wampis struggle- and a notable recent success.   Last month the Peruvian High Court ruled that a major oil development in Wampis territory, already well underway, was illegal and must be dismantled. The FPP approach of helping the Wampis by using the law and by legitimising their right to the land is bearing fruit.    Sue Bell, the chair of the Size of Herefordshire, gave a crystal clear outline of why we are doing what we are doing... that it's possible to gain ground in the rainforest struggle, and that it's important not to give in to fatalism.   The whole event was chaired sensitively by Diana Toynbee, the Green candidate who one day might be the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire.

The second event took place on June 16th, in Moccas Park near Bredwardine.  The park is run by Natural England and has prodigiously varied wildlife- from 13 species of bats, to the county's first nesting Red Kites, to the profusion of pied flycatchers, to a rich variety of invertibrates, including a beetle only found in the park.  It's hard to get to walk in the park, but by persistence Sue Bugler persuaded Natural England's man-in-charge Bob Silverwood to lead a guided walk through the park.  What he said was a revelation to the 20-odd people lucky enough to grab places on the walk.   Some of them have lived for years in the neighbourhood but there was a stream of revelations... that a mature oak growing in its own free space may have a root system spreading 5 metres beyond the canopy;  that the park's famous oaks (wonderfully described by the Reverend Kilvert) can be thriving even though they may be hollow; that a bank of earth is the remains of Norman `pillow mound', or place where they bred rabbits.   Many of the people who attended must have wished they had recordings of Bob talking.    The walk raised more than £200 for the Size of Herefordshire.

Wonderful sums have been raised too by two Herefordshire Primary Schools... Stretton Sugwas and Leominster Primary School.   Each has raised £400 for our campaign.   We are hugely grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

The Size of Herefordshire at the Hay Festival

We have our own special event at the Hay Festival!   On Friday 26th May, at four o'clock, Diana Toynbee, Hereford South's Green candidate, will be chairing the event which will relate the very recent trip of two Size of Herefordshire supporters to the rainforest home of the Wampis people.  Last month Dan Haworth-Salter and Malcolm Bell travelled to north eastern Peru in the company of Conrad Feather, the key man of the Forest Peoples Programme in their support of the Wampis people in their struggle to protect their forest.

Dan will be showing a short film about the Wampis and both he and Conrad will be relating what they discovered about the Wampis' progress in holding on to their land.  Sue Bell, chair of the Size of Herefordshire, will be on the platform too, to tell the audience about why we set up our campaign group and where we are headed,

Please do come along to the event... and spread the word!