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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kilimanjaro Trek 2006

‘Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take
but by the places and moments that take your breath away ’Anon

The fundraising Kilimanjaro trek which took place in October was a tremendous success. Eleven participants, all novices to high altitude trekking, embraced the challenge with great aplomb spending eight days and seven nights on Africa’s highest mountain and one of the world’s highest volcanoes (5896m).

Taking the Lemosho route, commencing on the western slope, the group traversed through equatorial to arctic conditions and the different ecosystems associated with each zone, witnessing new terrains, flora and forna with each days trek. Kilimanjaro has many plants exclusive to the mountain such as the beautiful Impatiens Kilimanjari and the evocative Senecio Kilimanjari. Days one and two were accompanied part way by Blue and Colobus monkeys, the latter’s barking ensured we were all awake before dawn! The terrain ranged from lush forest and regions with every tree and plant draped with lichen, giving the forest a bewitched feeling. Followed by zones dominated by heather and finally, rocky ash covered lunar landscapes. We also encountered two misty gorges with plants evocative of the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The journey was stimulating and exhilarating enhanced by the developing camaraderie within the team.

By supper on day four, it was a very subdued affair, at 4,000 feet one of our party had been forced to turn back due to altitude sickness and two others too unwell t
o attend. Our support crew were exceptional, taking great care of us, always with a smile and frequently with a song. On arrival at each new camp they welcomed us with traditional dance and song, a wonderful tonic for tired bodies and cherished memories for the group.

At high altitude, observing the clouds float by below you is a unique and enchanting experience, we all felt compelled, privileged and humbled to witness this. Total cloud inversion is a spectacular sight, especially on Kilimanjaro with nothing to interrupt its splendour above the vast plains of east Africa.

On the night before our summit attempt a strong gale kept everyone awake. Above the noise of the wind we could hear the shouts of people desperately trying to re-erect their fallen tents and worried ours would be next. Our tents remained upright but we all emerged the next morning covered in volcanic ash.

We embarked on the final summit ascent from Barafu camp (4600m) at 11.30pm on day six. Encountering an unusually severe blizzard, the climb was extremely arduous. Facing into the wind literally took your breath away! “Pole, pole” (slowly, slowly) hour upon hour we ascended, layers of ice building up on our clothes and walking poles and water supplies freezing. Occasionally looking up, in the hope of seeing the summit, one only saw darkness and the head torches of climbers ahead of you. The weather did not abate and many people turned back. Perhaps it was the wonderful support from our friends and colleagues back home that gave the Wilderness Foundation team the determination needed to keep going and all but one reached the top. It was the toughest physical challenge any of us had ever endured. We learnt a lot about ourselves on that night…

There was muted celebration in camp that night, we were all exhausted and somewhat shell shocked by the experience. The euphoria derived from our achievement came the next day though we were all a little sad that the expedition was nearing its end and we would be returning to everyday life!

Tanzania is a beautiful country - almost 40% of the land is protected to some degree therefore sustaining a healthy wildlife population. Its people are wonderful too. In 2007 the Wilderness Foundation hope to introduce wilderness trails in Tanzania to its trail programme.

The Kilimanjaro Trek team would like to express their grateful thanks to all who sponsored and supported our expedition. Particular praise goes to the Tanzanian support team without whom our goal would not have been reached. Congratulations also to Sharon Oliver for her magnificent fundraising achievements.

Jackie Cheng

We are organising a 2007 fundraiser along similar lines - if you'd like to get involved or learn more, get in touch with our office: +441245443073 or info (at) wildernessfoundation.org.uk

Member Profile: Graham Game

Our membership is drawn from a variety of fields including explorers, environmentalists, ecologists, conservationists but also psychologists and other practicioners not to mention people who simply have a passion for Wilderness. Here, in a new occassional series, we'll be profiling some of our particularly active members.

Graham Game, a professional environmentalist for 30 years, has worked on a wide range of campaigns and projects for organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Green Network and The Wildlife Trusts. In the 1990's he was involved with The All Party Parliamentary Environment Group at Westminster, has been an elected Councillor, a prolific public speaker, facilitator and lecturer, and has written countless articles for a wide variety of publications, and contributed to many broadcast programmes in the UK and USA.

While working for The Wildlife Trusts, Graham was involved with many innovative projects including the creation and management of Europe's largest coastal re-alignment scheme to mitigate some of the effects of sea-level rise and climate change on the East coast of England, and he was instrumental in the partnership with The Royal Horticultural Society, and the Wild About Gardens project which included the new book "Wildlife Gardening for Everyone".

In 2005, having secured sponsorship from a major brand, he project-managed The Wildlife Trusts' Show Garden at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show which won a Silver Award, and came runner-up in the BBC Peoples Choice Award. He has been described in his local press as "One of Britains most experienced Environmentalists", and in 2005 The Independent newspaper in a feature entitled "The Force of Nature", described Graham as responsible for promoting a "New kind of Environmentalism" through his work with Ecotherapy and
Ecopsychology.

Graham has been a keen supporter of The Wilderness Foundation since it became established in the UK, and today is a Consultant working on green PR, marketing, environment, health and sustainability issues, and his primary focus is promoting climate change and energy solutions. He is an active member of The All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group at Westminster, and is busy attempting to write his first book "Ten Years to Save The World".

Here is an excerpt from the Independent article mentioned above:

"It is almost de rigueur in some metropolitan circles to yearn for a simpler life in the country. And even those whose ambitions do not stretch to pressing olives or breeding pigs hotfoot it to the mountains or seaside at every opportunity. When the stresses of everyday life get too much, we take a walk in the park or have an hour in the garden. Science has long recognised this instinctive attraction to nature. Now, an emerging branch of psychology suggests it may be fundamental to our health and wellbeing - and to the future of the planet.

Ecopsychology is grounded in the idea that our innate craving for contact with nature is the result of millions of years of evolution in a natural environment. The problem, ecopsychologists argue, is that industrialisation and urbanisation have tossed those instincts aside. Our detachment from nature lies behind a host of modern psychological, emotional and physical problems, as well as our blasé attitude towards environmental change. Personal and planetary wellbeing, they say, feed into one another." - Read the full article here on the Independent website.

Learn more about Graham's work at http://www.greenfuturesconsultancy.com/ and also read his blog at: http://www.grahamgame.blogspot.com/

If you would like to join our membership then please download a membership form here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Horse Packing in Wyoming wilderness

Cold dawn awakes and
Warm sunlight trickles thru' forested slopes
Bodies warm back to life.
Whinnying horses and bear bells tinkle
as
Snow melt creek gurgles and gently roars
Across rounded stones and lava pores
Carrying eons of life and history in its path.
Ancient sounds, ancient land, old memories,
New life,
as
Emerald pines of new growth
reach skywards to
naked blue skies
Stretching to infinity
as
Skeletons of raging fires stand
Bleak in contrast to the infinite beauty
Survivors of past glory
Memories, Summer 2006

If you want to horse pack through this vast wilderness - larger than the State of Delaware and on the borders of Yellowstone and Teton National park - contact us on 01245 443073 or email info@wildernessfoundation.org.uk


Reflections from Wilderness

I wake with the dawn and sit quietly by the fire as the last watch patrols, and then I was alone.
The sky is a milky blue by now, and one can faintly make out the edge of the hills and the heavy mist that hangs over the river as the world awoke itself.
The crickets persisted in their continual chatter and the stillness is broken by the trilling of a Fiery Knecked Nightjar – ‘Good Lord Deliver Us’ ‘Good Lord Deliver Us’ gently coaxing us to the reality of day and giving us strength to face what the new day would have to offer us.

The baboons on the facing cliffs are barking incessantly. I first think it was some domestic dispute but as the screaming infants subside, so then do the alarm barks become more intense, more frenzied, creating deep tension in the air.
Something is disturbing them. Is it a leopard in the reeds near by, or perhaps is it us, as we all start to move around the camp, in the clearing light of day?
As the light expanded do in the distance comes the grunting of lion downstream, reclaiming their birthright and asserting their presence to all who will listen.

Dawn just came and went without more ceremony and then day was with us.
Feeling deep sadness as our last day on trail started to warm with the new sun, I withdraw to a log in the shape of a hammock without the strings. Friends came to talk in low voices and I again felt renewed by the special kinds of bonds wilderness trails create for me. Friendship that cannot be described on paper with ink – too fragile for chance misconstructions.
And so, the motions of departure begin. We all follow our routines and fiddle round with our packs – inevitably leaving things out to delay the end. Have our breakfast of cereal with water from our charcoaled kettle and started to clear the camp of our traces.

Solitude is elusive.

I knew that the end was coming and would be hard.

We leave a camp so clear of human trace – no one will know we were there. As if our journey was only an imagination.
Memory pricks at this waterhole where we always find rhino at the beginning of our journey or at the end. We are close now.
Over the slope, through the grass, there lies the tar road snaking through the trees. There is the vehicle..Through tears streaming down my cheeks, I remind myself that an end is also a beginning. There is life after the pooh, the mushrooms will continue to grow, the past necessary for the shaping of the future.
With that I pulled my pack from my back and didn’t look back again.

Journal Entry - Imfolozi Wilderness Trail -South Africa

If you'd like to have similar experiences with our help, then get in touch: info (at) wilderness foundation.org.uk or 08081786931/+441245443073.
- 2007 Course dates here.
- 2007 Trail dates will be posted soon...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wilderness Foundation YouTube Channel Launches with Kili pictures and sounds

The Wilderness Foundation UK today launched a YouTube Channel with pictures and song from the 2006 Kili Trek which raised money for our continued work for wilderness, wildlife and people:



Thanks to all who supported!

Also, read our earlier articles about the Snows of Kilimanjaro, the fundraising efforts prior to the trip and last but about the disappering glaciers on Kilimanjaro.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Today's Wilderness Quote

South African Passage - Diaries from the Wilderness Leadership School

"Where there is nothing but wilderness around you and only stars or a setting sun giving light, it is very easy to believe in yourself."
- Amanda Hedden in South African Passage, Diaries from the Wilderness Leadership School

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Population Increase - The Greatest Challenge?

Population LogoPresentation by John Simpson, Lord Adair Turner and Richard Ottaway MP.

Royal Geographical Society, 7.00, Wednesday 6th December 2006

With population set to rise by 40% to 9 billion over the next 45 years, this is arguably the single most important challenge to the future of our planet.

It will increasingly hinder poverty alleviation, accelerate climate change, cause widespread environmental degradation and foment international conflict.

John Simpson, celebrated broadcaster and journalist, is now Senior Editor of the BBC International News.

Lord Adair Turner
, formerly Director-General of the CBI, is a Trustee of WWF and Chairman of the Pensions Commission.

Richard Ottaway MP is Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Hearings on the impact of population increase. A report on these Hearings is imminent and already gaining worldwide attention.

This will be a lively and highly significant event. At a time when government policy is still evolving, we encourage you to attend and make your views known.

Doors Open 6.30pm
Presentation starts 7.00pm
Reception 8.30pm

Venue: Royal Geographical Society
1, Kensington Gore. LONDON SW7 2AR
(8 minutes from Kensington High Street tube station, near the Royal Albert Hall)

It is essential to book for this event:
Tickets: FREE entry to the presentation with voluntary £5 contribution on the door
£20 for presentation and reception
Please send ticket requirements and a stamped addressed envelope, with cheque if relevant payable to “MPMT/PSN Account”, to:

Toby Aykroyd, Population & Sustainability Network, Stag House, 37 Pembridge Villas
London W11 3EP Tel: 0207 792 9776
Email: tobyaykroyd@btconnect.com
For more information, visit: http://www.populationandsustainability.org/

Friday, November 17, 2006

How to use a Camping Gas Stove

The purist will of course prefer making fire with two sticks... Still, we came across this little video and thought we'd share it:



If you'd like hands-on Wilderness skills well beyond this level, then why not have a look at our Wilderness Training Course. The next dates are:

January 10th-31st 2007
February 7th-28th 2007
March 10th-31st 2007


Please contact our office if you'd like to learn more or book a place - info (at) wilderness foundation.org.uk or 08081786931/+441245443073

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wilderness on Wiki

Wikipedia Logo Now Wikipedia is somewhat controversial because of the fact that it is open to editing by its users as opposed the rigidity of traditional editorial control of a printed encyclopedia. Nevertheless, it can lead one to many other useful resources - Here's an excerpt of the entry for Wilderness:

"Wilderness is generally defined as a natural environment on Earth that has not been modified by human activity. Ecologists consider wilderness areas to be an integral part of the planet's self-sustaining natural ecosystem (the biosphere).
The word, "wilderness", derives from the notion of wildness; in other words that which is not controllable by humans. The word's etymology is from the Old English wildeornes, which in turn derives from wildeor meaning wild beast (wild + deor = beast, deer) (The Collins English Dictionary, 2000). From this point of view, it is the wildness of a place that makes it a wilderness. The mere presence or activity of people does not disqualify an area from being "Wilderness." Many ecosystems that are, or have been, inhabited or influenced by activities of people may still be considered "wild." This way of looking at wilderness includes areas within which natural processes operate without human interference." - Full entry...
If you want to go into more detail then we can recommend the collection of resources on the 8th World Wilderness Congress website: http://www.8wwc.org/ including resolutions.

Snows of Kilimanjaro

We will shortly be posting pictures from the successful bid to climb Kilimanjaro by our tireless volunteer fundraisers Sharon Oliver, Jill Golding, Sarah Alcock, Julieanne Cloete, Ann Butterworth, Chris Eppinger and Jo Roberts and Jackie Cheng from the office.

In the meantime, this story out on Reuters might be of interest - related to our earlier post about the disappering glaciers on Kilimanjaro:

"The snows are getting smaller year by year," Kinyaol Porboli, the chief of Esiteti village, told Reuters at the base of Africa's highest peak at 5,895 metres (19,340 feet). Many a travel brochure has shown the pastoralist Maasai, with their spears and bright red robes, standing before the towering peak which is a life-giver to their tribe and Kenya's crucial tourism economy. But now both may be threatened...
- Full story here...

Now, a small footnote on the above: Kilimanjaro is of course in Tanzania but when the colonial borders were drawn, not much attention was paid to tribal lines, but with Kili almost on the dividing line, it benefits both Kenya and Tanzanian communities.

The Wilderness Foundation is working actively in East Africa to secure Wilderness areas and make traditional communities more sustainable in the face of the changing environment.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Elephant video from Wildcast.net

We just came across this little elephant movie on http://www.wildcast.net/ - a website with some fantastic wildlife photography and movies...



Now we've earlier mentioned our North American sister organisation's efforts to save the few remaining Desert Elephants and thought a link here would be a good fit, although the elephants above are of course from the other end of Africa...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Spectacular Wilderness Footage from the BBC: Planet Earth

Planet Earth ExplorerTonight on BBC, Planet Earth once again showcased just how beautiful a pristine landscape can be... Visit the BBC Science & Nature site to try the Planet Earth Explorer (UK users only though) or download one of their screensavers or wallpapers.

We also mentioned the BBC Planet Under Threat blog in a posting back in May - that's still going strong: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/planetearthunderthreat/

The Foundation encourages appreciation of Wilderness from afar, although our preference is of course by foot... If you'd like to out there with our help, then get in touch: info (at) wilderness foundation.org.uk or 08081786931/+441245443073.
- 2007 Course dates here.

- 2007 Trail dates will be posted soon...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Arts & Ecology at the RSA

Land, Art - A Cultural Ecology HandbookJust in from our friends at the RSA Library - an item that may be of interest...

"The RSA Arts & Ecology project , a programme supporting the work of the arts in examining and addressing environmental concerns in an international arena, is holding a conference in December 2006 entitled "No way back". Providing different perspectives on ecological issues from major thinkers of our time, and timed to coincide with the new project publication Land, art: a cultural ecology handbook." - Full story here...
Click here to access previous RSA related postings from the Wilderness Foundation.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Latest on the loss of Icelandic Wilderness in this week's Private Eye

Private EyeThis week's Private Eye carries a satirical report from Iceland where, despite the sterling efforts of our friends at Saving Iceland, a huge new dam project is under way. We'd link to the story, but Private Eye only put limited content online so it does mean a trip down to the local newsagent if you want the full story. Alternatively, you could simply stop by http://www.savingiceland.org/ to learn more.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Trees for Life diary...

The Wilderness Foundation has long supported the treeplanting efforts of Trees for Life and here is an inspiring and informative diary entry from Jason Cheng from his recent efforts with TfL in Scotland:
"I first met the rest of my group at Inverness train station, not knowing what to expect.

As individuals turned up I shook their hand and we exchanged names, and we travelled via the minibus to Glen Morrison, where our work week was based.

On the way we stopped in a small section of forest for lunch and an introductory talk. Although it was only a small piece of natural Caledonian forest, you felt as though you where in a Jurassic park film, with the river raging and the lichens dripping from the trees.


On the following Sunday we started work. We would be taking down an old, now redundant fence in Forestry Commission land. I didn't really know how important this was but many rare black grouse are killed by fences each year as they fly low to the ground and sometimes may not see the fence, especially in foggy weather which is common!

Monday we started to make aspen enclosures quite hign up in the glen. Aspen does not disperse its seed very well; in fact it rarely produces seed at all, so planting them is important recreate the natural forest diversity. Unfortunately deer like to eat aspen leaves so deer fences must be made to protect the saplings. It took almost a day for four of us to complete one enclosure.

Other days included a red squirrel survey: As many of you probably know the grey squirrel has take over from the red squirrel in most places; however in predominantly coniferous forest, reds have a slight advantage and still cling on. Cutting down non-indigenous tree species is another important task. Sitka spruce in particular seeds vigorously and if left as they are they would out-compete birches, Scots pine and others, eventually killing them. In the evenings a couple from the group would cook a meal, which every day was great, followed down with a "wee dram" of single malt. Lovely. One of my favourite experiences was listening to a certain owl that lived somewhere in a small stand of lime trees near our accommodation, despite my best efforts of trying to spot it in the dark, I was reduced to just listening, for me it was a rare sound. It was certainly a great week for me and the others and would recommend it to anybody, the variety of people in my group was very broad!" - Jason Cheng

You can learn more about Trees for Life on their website: http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/


'Wild Laws' - Article in today's Guardian

Interesting article in today's Guardian on the 'Wild Law' concept:

Guardian Unlimited"The term "wild law" was first coined by Cormac Cullinan, a lawyer based in Cape Town, South Africa. Put simply, it is about the need for a change in our relationship with the natural world, from one of exploitation to a more "democratic" participation in a community of other beings. If we are members of a community, Cullinan says, then our rights must be balanced against those of plants, animals, rivers and ecosystems. This means developing new laws that require the integrity and functioning of the whole Earth community to be prioritised. In a world governed by wild law, the destructive, human-centred exploitation of the natural world would be unlawful." - Full story here...

The Gaia Foundation also has an article by Cormac Cullinan, (first published in Resurgence).

UKELAThis also led us to learning more about the upcoming events by the UK Environmental Law Association which may be of interest:

  • Wild Law one day conference Nov 10th
  • Nicholas Hurd MP will talk to the Climate Change Working Party on 23rd Nov
  • Stephen Tromans will provide an update on environmental law in Bristol on 28th Nov
    - On the same day in London the newly formed Corporate Due Diligence Working Party meets.
  • Talks on nature conservation will be given in Cardiff on 30th Nov.
  • The Garner Lecture 2006 by Malcolm Forster will be held on 13th Dec.

Learn more about their events here: http://www.ukela.org/events.shtml

Round up of local developments

The Wilderness Foundation UK office is based out of Chelmsford and we have previously reported on some of the activities we get involved with in our area such as the RSA Coffeehouse Challenge on Environment vs. Development where our director, Jo Roberts took part in a discussion with principals from Essex County Council - Planning, Chelmsford Environment Partnership, Countryside Properties PLC and Grahamgame.com.

One of the people who also took part in that event were Stephen Robinson, the local 2005 Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate, who in addition to blogging on local issues here: http://chelmsford-stephenrobinson.blogspot.com/ has now also kicked off a new initiative. In his own words:

"I have put together the Greener Chelmsford website as a single place to list ideas to make our town more sustainable."

The Wilderness Foundation, whilst carrying no political affiliation, applauds this initiative.

We also learnt through Stephen that the next Chelmsford Green Drinks is this Thursday, 9th November. It is an occasional get-together for the environmentally minded. Read more here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

OU Course on Environmental Decision Making

For the academically oriented, we thought this from the Open University might be of interest:

"Postgraduate Programme in Environmental Decision Making: This programme is designed to meet the challenges of decision making in environmental contexts in your working life, your community and your home. It will enhance your understanding of environmental issues and skills in decision-making processes. The prospectus gives details of the courses in this modular programme of study, which is designed to meet the needs of practitioners and aspiring professionals who wish to study part-time for a diploma or masters degree." - Learn more here.

If you're more of an in-the-wild type of learner then you can of course also attend our Wilderness Training Course at the Wilderness Leadership School in South Africa. The dates for next year can be found below.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dates for 2007 - Wilderness Training Course

Time to plan for the new year! Here are next dates for the Wilderness Training Course:


  • January 10th-31st 2007

  • February 7th-28th 2007

  • March 10th-31st 2007

Learn more about the course here.


Please contact our office if you'd like to learn more or book a place - info (at) wilderness foundation.org.uk or 08081786931/+441245443073

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Echoing Green

Here's an item that may be of interest to the entrepeneurial part of our audience:

Echo Green
"Echoing Green provides first-stage funding and support to visionary leaders with bold ideas for social change. As an angel investor in the social sector, Echoing Green identifies, funds and supports the world’s most exceptional emerging leaders and the organizations they launch. Through a two-year fellowship program, we help passionate social entrepreneurs develop new solutions to some of society’s most difficult problems. These social entrepreneurs and their organizations work to close deeply-rooted social, economic and political inequities to ensure equal access and help all individuals reach their potential." ... Here's how to apply.

We heard about this through Rob Johnston's blog on the Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Pace University.

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