Turning Season: Conversations with Changemakers in Our Adventure Toward a Life-Sustaining Society

Turning Season: Conversations with Changemakers in Our Adventure Toward a Life-Sustaining Society

The Rainforest Defending Itself (with Liz Downes)

January 17, 2022

Have you ever donated to "save the rainforest?" I remember placing a globe-shaped piggy bank on the secretary's desk at my elementary school in about 1991. The Kids for Saving Earth club asked people to drop in their spare change so we could buy a $25 acre of rainforest, and protect it "forever." 

It's been eye-opening to connect with Liz Downes, who works with John Seed, who has himself been devoted to rainforest protection since 1979. Liz is the director of the Rainforest Information Center in Australia. The Center recently supported a successful legal case in Ecuador's constitutional court. The court's decision was announced at the end of 2021: Los Cedros Reserve will not be open to mining. This was an area that was protected "forever" as a reserve, but had been opened to mining exploration in 2017. Wouldn't this be counter to the "Rights of Nature" enshrined in Ecuador's constitution? A couple months ago, Ecuador's constitutional court ruled that yes, mining here would violate the Rights of Nature, and the reserve is protected once more.

I loved hearing from Liz, someone devoted to the day-in, day-out tasks of activism, of "holding actions" to protect the Earth and all of us living beings.

Click Play to hear her talk about:

  • being an activist in "David and Goliath" type situations (local communities vs. mining corporations)
  • how she is fueled somewhat by anger, and more deeply by love
  • why, as John Seed said, human activists are not defending the rainforest, they are "the rainforest defending itself"
  • a problem with our tech solutions to the climate crisis, like electric vehicles: the need for copper, much of which is under indigenous homelands and some of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems
  • why activists with so much common ground come to different conclusions about what's most urgent
  • Ecuador’s unique biodiversity, from Andes to Amazon rainforest to cloud forests
  • issues with how mining companies interact with local communities
  • and how the idea that "people are bad for the Earth" seems to overlook all the human beings who are not only living in a less destructive way, but all the human cultures that have solutions to our ecological crises in their ways of thinking

How about you? I'd love to hear what "holding actions" or protections you are supporting. Share them in the comments at turningseason.com/episode8

Music by East Forest.