Making the World a Wilder Place

We have no other world but this one. If we damage it irreparably we damage and destroy ourselves and what it means to be truly human.

His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales

The Findhorn Foundation’s role as a source of inspiration and global force for positive change was honoured and celebrated in the Universal Hall recently by three individuals whose lives have been irrevocably changed by their time serving in the community.

The historic evening was a report-back on WILD10, the 10th World Wilderness Congress (WWC), which is the planet’s longest running, public, international conservation project. The evening also commemorated the ‘WILD3′ gathering in Findhorn and Inverness in 1983 which officially opened the Universal Hall exactly 30 years earlier.

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Vance with wife Kate at their marriage ceremony in Findhorn, with Peter and Eileen Caddy

Both events were testimony to the energy and enthusiasm of American Vance Martin, long-term president of The WILD Foundation, who lived in the Findhorn community for a decade during the Seventies and Eighties, working closely with co-founders Peter and Eileen Caddy as part of the core team.

Vance says: “In those early years the understanding was always very clear: Findhorn is a ‘preparatory school’ for people to learn from as they help build it, and then a source of inspiration as they go about their ‘world work’. That has undeniably been the reality with my international environmental work. The 10 years at Findhorn gave me a base of experience, knowledge and vision which I continue to utilise daily, especially the understanding of working with inner allies and beings of spirit, while also working with the power of synthesis and the effectiveness of collaboration, or community. These days we refer to it as subtle activisim. It can be subtle, yes… and also positive, powerful and productive!”

Sharing the stage with him was Scot Alan Watson Featherstone, who joined the community in 1978, took part in the 1983 Congress and then subsequently was inspired in 1986 to found the award winning Trees for Life conservation charity with the vision of restoring the Caledonian Forest. The millionth tree of that project was planted last year. Alan has presented his internationally acclaimed re-wilding work at three of the WWCs, including WILD10 in Salamanca, Spain.

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Alan with Vance in Salamanca

Alan says: “Findhorn’s pioneering work of cooperation and co-creation with Nature forms the heart of our project, as our project to help restore the Caledonian Forest is all about enabling what Nature is seeking to do in the Highlands herself – to re-clothe the denuded landscape with a natural covering of trees.

“At WILD10 there was a core group of seven of us who have lived, or are still living at Findhorn, and our presence as part of the 1,000 delegates was significant on both the outer and inner levels. Vance in particular has done great work over the past three decades in taking the essence of Findhorn’s work with Nature and developing it to great effect in his work for wilderness protection worldwide”.

South African-born master of ceremonies Geoff Dalglish, who is a member of the Foundation’s Living Essentials Apprentice Programme, went from ‘Petrolhead to Pilgrim’ with his decision to walk with messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon our beautiful Earth.

The theme of the latest Congress is ‘Make the World a Wilder Place’ and Geoff walked the Great Mountain Corridor through six countries and four major mountain ranges as an ambassador for WILD10.

His epic 2,500km 124-day trek along the Trail to Salamanca, followed in the spoor of migrating wolves wherever possible and explored the remarkable return of wildlife and wilderness to parts of Europe in the wake of land abandonment and a migration of farmers and villagers to the cities.

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Geoff and other walkers are welcomed by the Mayor of Salamanca

“The idea was to investigate the return of wildlife, including iconic predators like the grey wolf and brown bear, and I was lucky enough to see both roaming wild and free, along with several sightings of the bearded vulture, which is coming back from the brink of extinction. But there is still so much to be done and so many huge challenges,” Geoff said. “My walk gave me a glimpse of possibilities and introduced me to so many amazing conservationists and caring individuals who personify the greatness and generosity of the human spirit.

“WILD10 was a wonderful gathering of hearts and minds from all around the world that will spark many important conservation initiatives in the future and help to raise awareness around key issues that impact on all life on Earth.”

In a welcome video message developed specifically for delegates to WILD10, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, said that many in society have become entirely used to thinking of Nature as a force to be conquered.

“I was intrigued and heartened by your call to ‘Make the World a Wilder Place’.

“There is no doubting the advances we have made in our search for progress, but what is now becoming more and more evident is that there are some worrying, not to say terrifying downsides to this predominant outlook and approach.

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Vance trekking on the Skeleton Coast

“The loss and degradation of so many wild places around the world is the main reason we are seeing the disappearance of an alarming number of animals and plants. It has hastened climate change and it is increasingly having a damaging impact as the natural systems that once underpinned development are plundered to exhaustion.

“We cannot ignore the fact that as we do away with wild places so we deprive the human spirit of an essential source of inspiration and solace, which throughout history has sustained human civilisation. Fortunately it seems there is a slow but surely growing consensus that contact and connection with Nature does matter; that a positive future for humanity can only be established if a proper relationship with Nature is absolutely central to the equation. We will not achieve stability if all we do is continue to exploit nature’s extraordinary benevolence. We cannot exist at the end of the day without natural capital and the income we draw from it in the form of Nature’s miraculous ecosystem services.

“Protecting and restoring wilderness, particularly the rainforests which are quite literally the lungs of the world, is very much within our gift. We have the resources and know-how to do it, as so many inspiring examples of successful conservation demonstrate. It is of course a huge and daunting challenge but it has to be met if our grandchildren are to have anything like a manageable future.”

He expressed the hope that WILD10′s message would be heard and acted upon so that our world remains “somewhere where there is still room for the wild places that are so essential to our survival and our sanity … We have no other world but this one. If we damage it irreparably we damage and destroy ourselves and what it means to be truly human.”

Geoff Dalglish

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