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Gemma

 

Coming into the world of Auroville forest work fresh from a conventional European university degree (in this case, a B.Sc in Tropical Environmental Science, U.K.), I had to first accept that actually I still know nothing. For example, studying the physical factors of erosion and the effect of over-grazing does not help to know how to make an effective fence that keeps the goats out and the water in. University can give many things, but the knowledge it provides is dry and lacks a living framework. The cumulative knowledge built up in Auroville over the years of greenwork is different, gained through practical work and by finding the answers to immediate and very real questions.

Learning..

The amount there is to learn here in Auroville appears utterly daunting at times, both in terms of the physical and practical know-how of managing and working on the land, and in terms of trying to fully discover what it is we are trying to create here in Auroville's forest.

Botanising..

The first task is considerably lightened by the support and advice given freely by the 'senior forest dinosaurs' that hide out in various corners of the GreenBelt. The second gives a whole new dimension to the forest work here - going out on a (roughly) weekly basis to find some of the scattered pockets of Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest still remaining in the area. These 'botanising trips' provide the opportunity to learn the species that we are planting here, to collect seeds, and maybe most importantly to start to discover the spirit living in these forests.

Spirit of the forest

By going with a friend who has years of experience and knowledge gained purely through Auroville, I can also see how academic knowledge complements experiential knowledge. The two of them together, combined with the completely unscientific appreciation of the atmosphere and spirit of a forest, provide inspiration and understanding for the work we do here, as well as giving it a rich and living framework in which to grow.

HomeEnvironment & bioregion Profiles - Gemma 

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