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Breathing new life into Belipola

Breathing new life into Belipola

In the once lush hills of Sri Lanka’s UVA Province there is a new chapter emerging from the birthplace of Analog Forestry. It was 30 years ago that seeds began to sprout in what has grown up to become the worlds first Analog Forestry testing ground at Belipola.

There are many of us alive today to recognize that we are in the midst of a great turning, a re-evolution, a re-imaging of the human place in this amazing biosphere that we call Earth. The great turning is our collective moment of opportunity to show the skeptics that there are alternative ways than those that have for so long dominated political, social and physical developments.   One of these alternatives is Analog Forestry and the team at Belipola is excited to begin teaching, showing and repainting the landscape.

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When my partner Trudy and I were introduced to Belipola, it was both a hopeful and sad moment. Hopeful because we tasted the potential to showcase what has grown up to be a beautiful and bountiful forest garden. We also felt the possibility to not only create abundance through the regenerative practice of Analog Forestry, but to teach and share it. It was hopeful because we know that abundance does not need to come at the expense of other living beings that share this precious planet with us, and it appeared that we had found one of few precious spaces that prove this.  Yet beyond the beauty of the forest, the incredible flavor of its toxin free vegetables, and the learning potential of Belipola, a sadness prevailed because the dream had all but been forgotten.

We didn’t see the human presence in the systems. Sure, human hands had planted the trees and human intellect provided the ferment to conceive of such a place, but it occurred to us that if Belipola was going to shine as an example of what Analog Forestry can do, we must bring humans back to the forest.  We must bring innovative thinking about how humanity will re-integrate with the rest of the biosphere.  We must design and experiment and live in a way that is integrative, co-dependent and abundant.

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So, with the generous support of the IAFN secretariat and its donor Both Ends (many thanks to all who are involved in this), Belipola will get a fresh start after many years of laying in wait.  Trudy and I have been working with a team of 4 on site to dream and design a vision for this next phase of Belipola’s life.  We are focusing on developing initiatives in three areas:

  1. To develop a regional training center for Analog Forestry, including a research station.  In addition to Analog Forestry, Belipola’s training facilities will host sustainability courses such as Gaia Education’s Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) course and Permaculture Research Institute’s Permaculture Design Course (PDC), as well as custom designed courses and eco-educational retreats as requested.
  2. To develop a dynamic and stable business from eco tourism, organic agriculture and forest garden products.  Belipola aims to teach and demonstrate through a business model that includes holistic human development, environmental regeneration and community inclusion.
  3. To engage in extension services, training, design and support for our local community to build up socially and environmentally positive action.  To start we are working with the local farmer’s association on the restoration of two degraded landscapes, the development of an organic producer’s group and to lay the foundation for a community-led eco tourism initiative.

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We are very excited for these initiatives to take root and bloom and we are grateful to Rainforest Rescue International, particularly Dr. Ranil Senanayke and Charith Senenanayke for giving us the opportunity to share and learn from Belipola.

Please contact us at any time to exchange ideas, request help or just to say hi.  The more we do together, the less we have to do alone.

Contact Sion: sionzivetz@gmail.com

Contact Trudy: tsjuriansz@gmail.com

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