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May 2024 Newsletter

Hi FEN Friend

We are all Earthlings, human and other than human. We are all interconnected and interdependent globally and locally. The stories we tell about who we are, where we come from and what motivates us in life are all part of this interconnectedness and interdependence. I am constantly reminded of this as I engage in the various networks with which I am involved.

This edition has stories that are global and local and they are all part of the bigger story of Earth, our amazing common home, the stories of diverse faith traditions. and the bigger 13.8 billion year cosmic story. They demonstrate the diversity that is the Faith Ecology Network as we learn to better care for the biodiversity of Earth life that sustains all of us. Our work is about learning to listen and learn, reflect and contemplate, and take action locally and globally.

We encourage you to send us a story of what you are learning and doing along with a picture or two to [email protected]. FEN is a volunteer network. We are slowly getting closer to our target of $30,000 by the end of the year to help with a part-time paid Co-ordinator to assist me in the role. Thank you those who have contributed. We appreciate any assistance in achieving this goal. Thanks for your interest and support and read on!

Anne Lanyon, FEN Co-ordinator .

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FEN Local News

To assist faith and other communities to delve deeper into using the Ten Ways to Care framework, FEN is holding a series of workshops in 2024 with inspiring stories and practical examples from our wonderful network!

Ten Ways To Care

Join FEN's Ten Ways to Care Workshop 2

Listen to Wisdom from the Elders &
Grow in Your Sense of Place

DATE: Sunday 2 June 2, 2024 
TIME: 1.45pm for a 2pm start - 4pm AEST
VENUE: This is a hybrid event.

  • In Person: Bishop Bede Heather Centre, 1-5 Marion Street, Blacktown NSW. (Parking available on site)
  • Online at Satellite Hubs around Australia. Sites to be confirmed. 

REGISTRATION ESSENTIAL: www.trybooking.com/CRMOB

PROGRAM:

Wisdom from the Elders
Learn about the First Nations people where you live.

Grow in Your Sense of Place
Love where you are. Get to know the names and habitats of the wildlife/tree species where you live or worship; Make deep connections to your local place whether you live in an apartment, a suburban home, or on a farm.

Sunday 2 June corresponds with International Biodiversity Day, National Reconciliation Week, and World Environmental Day.
 

 


Resources from Workshop 1 Now Available!

We had a wonderful first workshop on March 22nd (World Water Day) with around 40 people attending! 

The resources from each of the speakers focusing on Become an Eco Citizen, and Be an Active Voice can now be downloaded at our dedicated Ten Ways website here: https://tenways-fen123.nationbuilder.com/workshops

See Sue Martin’s excellent online Platypus Storytelling presentation and Jasmine Payget’s experiences of caring for a river, in her case, the Parramatta River. Jasmine also kindly gave these suggestions for becoming EcoCitizens:

  1. Join local environmental actions such as cleanups - find out via council websites. Several of her Catchment Group activities are run by a church group or a small group from a faith community. Find out via your local group Facebook pages. These activities are run at least twice a year eg March Clean Up Australia Day and September World Clean Up Day. 
     
  2. Join Bushcare - most councils have support for Bushcare groups. If you find out more about what is happening in your local area, participate and learn how the process works. Then you could decide what you might like to do in the future to involve more of your faith community. Bushcare is a commitment for 2 hours once a month (usually) with a council paid Bushcare officer who helps and trains and are generally wonderful.

Register for the next Workshop on Sunday 2 June 2004 HERE.
 


  

Thank You…

…. to those in the FEN network who made a submission to the drafting of the new Environment Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation Act. An announcement was made on April 24th that the Federal Government will progress the changes to Stage Two.

We encourage you to keep an eye out for new announcements at https://www.dcceew.gov.au/about/news/progressing-nature-positive-law-reforms and continue to write to the Minister expressing your concern that all of Australia’s biodiversity be protected by strong enforceable laws, not just iconic threatened and vulnerable species.

You might like to sign the Australian Conservation Foundation Petition at https://www.acf.org.au/environment-laws-petition. We were pleased to hear that the Toondah wetlands in Moreton Bay, Brisbane, which are a Ramsar protected area on Quandamooka Country, have been saved from a proposed development!!
 


 

We Love and Depend on Bees

We can recommend you learn more about bees by organising a viewing of Queen of the Sun, a profound, alternative look at the global bee crisis from award-winning filmmaker Taggart Siegel. Made in 2010, it is even more relevant in 2023 as the global bee crisis has deteriorated. Alice Cawardine, Catholic Earthcare Australia Co-ordinator, hosted an online viewing of this full length film followed by input by Julie Armstrong, a Canberra based Environmental Educator from Act for Bees.  You might do similar!
 


 

Contemplative Nature Engagement Practices – A New Guide

Published by Psychological Sciences University of Melbourne

Since some FEN members were part of this research we share here one example of one practice: Sharing with others as a strengthening of community that supports ongoing practice and action, p 22.

Mari Rhydwen Roshi is a Zen Buddhist practitioner and teacher. Sangha (the Zen group community) is an important aspect of Zen and not only supports practice, but also compassionate action.

For example, while Zen groups in themselves may not initiate social action, there was a tradition of social action within the Diamond Sangha of action through related groups such as the Buddhist Peace Fellowship doing so. To clarify, not everyone in a sangha will necessarily share the same socio-political perspective but people who wish to initiate and participate in protest activities such as, for example, Contemplative Rebels within the broader Extinction Rebellion umbrella, may do so.

A group of this name was initially started in Western Australia and when Mari returned to live in Sydney, she helped initiate a group there. As we found in the 1980s during anti-uranium protests, having protesters involved in bigger demonstrations whose practice is to sit silently in meditation can have a calming influence and provide a refuge for any other protestors who may simply need a break, or to dissociate themselves from any confrontation or aggression that may arise.
   


 

Meditation for Earth

On the first Wednesday of each month for the last two and a half years, Anna Markey from Coast & City Buddhist Sangha and Philippa Rowland from Multifaith South Australia have been leading a silent meditation for Earth on the steps of Adelaide’s Parliament House. In February they were able to have a conversation with Premier Peter Malinauskus about rapid transition to renewable energy which was great.
 



FEN Global News

Al Mizaan - A Covenant for the Earth

Launched February 2024: www.almizan.earth

The Covenant presents an Islamic outlook on the environment in a bid to strengthen local, regional, and international actions to combat the triple planetary crises defined by the United Nations as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. It is a global endeavour to engage Muslims from all levels of society in the development and adoption of this call.

FEN encourages Australian Muslims to read this document and join the FEN network. Please share.
  


How can faith-based approaches protect biodiversity?

This is the Abstract of a paper published March 2024 in the Elsevier Science Direst Journal for Nature Conservation https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/journal-for-nature-conservation. It is relevant to FEN’s mission and aims.

The Authors are: Aishwarya Maheshwari, Shonil Bhagwat, Lam Van Hoang, Yogita Karpate.

"People’s coexistence with nature is one of the most important global challenges today. Addressing this challenge requires a fundamental change in one’s attitudes, behaviours and practices. Given the overlap between conservation goals, and religious teachings and practices that focus on environmental sustainability, a faith-based approach is considered an effective and ethical way of bringing about a lasting change. We conducted an exhaustive review of published papers and reports exploring the theoretical correlation between religion and biodiversity conservation to identify gaps and analyse the influence of religious beliefs and practices on conservation efforts. Religious institutions can influence conservation on at least two levels– a) religious organisations own a substantial proportion of the world’s habitable land, which can be managed to enhance biodiversity, and b) religious leaders can influence the perceptions of their followers and enable a change in their attitudes, behaviours and practices. In this review, we explore the linkages between religion and biodiversity conservation and ask: To what extent can religion play a role in slowing down biodiversity loss? We also discuss the challenges and limitations of engaging with faith-based approaches, especially in cases where religious goals do not fully align with conservation goals."

Read More: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/journal-for-nature-conservation
 


 

Nature is Sacred

Report: Faith-based Organizations and the Implementation of the

Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, from Faiths for Biodiversity

“Peace and Nature” is the theme of the upcoming 16th Conference of the Parties convened by the United Nation Convention on Biodiversity (UN CBD) in Cali, Colombia, on 21 October to 1 November 2024. With the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) – now known as The Biodiversity Plan: For life on Earth – formally being adopted during COP15, COP16 will focus on translating the Biodiversity Plan into actionable national initiatives and mobilizing resources for implementation. (Australia is a party to this agreement).

Cited as the 2015 Paris Agreement equivalent of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Biodiversity Plan outlines national commitments to halt biodiversity loss by 2030, and restore natural ecosystems by 2050. The UNFCCC and UN CBD Secretariat also released a joint statement on “Climate, Nature, and People” during the 28th Conference of the Parties, that affirms their commitment to strengthen respective and shared efforts to “urgently address climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation together in a coherent, synergetic and holistic manner.” (That is why we need to hold our Government to this agreement).

The 2022 Living Planet report of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that wildlife populations have declined by an average 69% in the past 50 years, and called for the world to adopt a goal of being “nature positive” by 2030. 

In February, the Faiths for Biodiversity, an international coalition of faith-based organizations (FBOs) “mobilizing and advocating for strong and ambitious action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss”, held an online briefing meeting to discuss coordination strategies, and modalities of faith-based engagement and advocacy in the upcoming biodiversity conference.

During COP15 in Montreal, Canada, the Coalition held dialogues with the UN CBD Secretariat on the value of faith-based engagement in international spaces. This led to the official recognition of faith groups as a constituency to the UN CBD process. The Coalition also contributed inputs to the KMGBF as it was being finalized.

The Coalition seeks to:

  • Advocate for, monitor and track the implementation of the Biodiversity Plan;
  • Facilitate spaces for FBOs, conservation groups, and other civil society organizations to network and jointly advocate for biodiversity at key international moments; and
  • To increase FBO understanding of biodiversity concerns.

It is important to uplift, support, and amplify faith-based action in international spaces, as faith groups highlight the moral imperative of caring for the Common Home as a shared responsibility of all. (We in FEN thank those in advance who make a submission from Australia by May 10th – See the FEN email sent April 30th, or see more details here. It would be great if one of them is selected).
  



FEN Partner News

Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)  

ARRCC is promoting the Uniting Church Climate Conference.

When: Saturday 11 May, 9 am - 4 pm

Where: The Centre for Ministry, 16 Masons Dr, North Parramatta

Cost: free!

Book Now at https://events.humanitix.com/ucan-conference

The Conference, Faith in a Better Future,is being jointly hosted by the Synod of NSW.ACT and Uniting, the church’s community services and advocacy arm.

The conference is an opportunity for the Uniting Church and wider faith and other communities to learn together, be encouraged and invigorated, and build common purpose in their climate action and care for the earth.
 


Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA)

The Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) is offering an 8-week course for people seeking to build a deeper understanding about Earth-centred thinking and action, and to apply these approaches to their own projects and work. More information at https://education.earthlaws.org.au/courses/earth-centred-futures-2024/
  


  

Nature For ALL

Habitat Stepping Stones – Macquarie University

Habitat Stepping Stones is a partner of Nature For All Australia, as is FEN.

The Habitat Stepping Stones Goal is

To make it easy for people to create effective habitat stepping stones in their urban backyards.

Over half of Australia’s threatened species occur within the urban fringe. We wanted to make it easy for people to turn their gardens into wildlife-friendly stopovers between existing wildlife corridors. To do that we needed to overcome three common barriers to action:

  1. Lack of awareness
  2. Bewilderment
  3. Apathy
     

United Religions Initiative Environmental Network (URI)

The URI Earth Restoration Co-ordinator, Rev Lauren Van Ham shares this message with global co-operation circles:

In this month’s message about Earth restoration and climate action efforts, the focus is prayer and connection.  As an interfaith network of people, our prayer takes many forms!  Some of us pray together in our houses of worship, some of us sit in quiet contemplation, some of us sing and dance, and others dig in the soil or share stories around a fire.  In whatever way feels right for you, let’s all pray today and every day for Mother Earth.  She is so good to us, and we are so hard on Her.  We ask Earth’s forgiveness and do all we can to strengthen our care and love for Earth and all beings.

May the Joy of Creation illuminate your Heart,

Lauren 
 


   

  FEN is a volunteer network.

We need another $20,000 to reach our goal of $30,000 by the end of the year to employ a part-time Co-ordinator to assist us. We appreciate any assistance in achieving this goal.