Greening the mountain slopes of Nepal  

Chris Evans grew up in a comfortable home in Herefordshire, but after gaining a forestry degree and joining VSO, he found himself in a harsh environment where communities struggle to survive on degraded land.

His arrival in 1985 was the beginning of a lifelong association with people and farming in the mountains of Nepal where he has helped set up the Himalayan Permaculture Centre. In a talk in Leominster for Herefordshire’s Tree Week programme, Chris described how there was now hope for the future in the challenging terrain.  Spread of permaculture methods in which planting trees and perennial plants alongside arable crops are key, is helping to reverse decline.

In many areas fuel had become desperately short, with women spending up to six hours a day walking to find and gather a bundle of firewood. As a result people resorted to burning animal manure, thus depriving the soil of input. “It’s a no-money economy,” said Chris, “In many ways they are incredibly resilient communities, but they face a constantly deteriorating resource base.”

The ecological recovery work has included improved composting techniques, better harvesting of water resources, boosting honey production with better beehives, seed production and training ‘barefoot consultants’ to reach farming communities needing advice. Chris illustrated his talk with superb images of the rural Nepalese people and their mountain landscape. He is happy to give talks around the county.

Chris and his partner Looby are based at Waterloo Farm, Orleton, near Leominster, where they recently launched Applewood Permaculture training centre.   Contact cevans@gn.apc.org

Trump vs. Science

When future historians look back at 2016, what will they see as the most significant change?

In Marrakech, Morocco, the COP22 climate change talks are underway. The evidence for climate change is utterly overwhelming. Atmospheric CO2 has passed the milestone of 400ppm.  Each year sees the global average temperature rise. Glaciers and permafrost are melting, sea levels are rising. Urgent action is required.

As I write this Donald Trump has just won the American Presidency. He has described Climate Change as a hoax. I can think of no better parallel than when the Nazi’s described any science they didn’t like as ‘Jewish Science’. Dismissing hard science based on careful study of empirical evidence is a very dangerous path to take. Donald Trump genuinely is a loose cannon.

Globally air pollution is re-emerging as a critical issue. This week Delhi has been described as a ‘gas chamber’ and the High Court in London has condemned our government for inaction in reducing air pollution.

The solutions to both climate change and to air pollution are a rapid transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to one based on renewables. Much of the Cleantech innovation is happening in USA.

What effect a Trump victory will have on any of this is hard to tell, but it is very likely that global leadership on these critical issues will move elsewhere.

Meanwhile real world events unfold. Sotheby’s have plenty of multi-million dollar homes for sale in Miami Beach. Sea level rise, plus the region’s porous geology and the increasing likelihood of storms and hurricanes make it almost inevitable that these properties will become utterly worthless before long, but exactly when, nobody knows. Trump may be dismissive of climate science, but he is keenly aware of property prices. Atmospheric gases and geological processes of change are completely oblivious to property prices or to the egos of politicians, yet they may dominate the news events of the Trump presidency.

We live in interesting times!

This blog was originally posted at RichardPriestley.co.uk