Expert in environmental sustainability and agroforestry
Germany / Mexico
Bernd is an expert in environmental sustainability and agroforestry with ample praxis experience. He was an alpine mountain guide, ski instructor, navy officer, but, above all, researcher and teacher before he set out into the tropics to study rainforest destruction.
Over 5 generations his family has planted more than 3 trillion trees in Germany alone. His family is one of the reasons Germany could rebuild its forests quickly after two devastating wars. Bernd grew up with trees. Then, fifty years ago, he came into contact with the early American Indian Movement, and following years of Studium Generale received a German Ph.D. in Natural Sciences and Rural Planning, based on a 4 year apprenticeship with traditional Mayan farmers in Yucatán, México.
Feeling the need to merge the experiences from such different worlds he operated a Zen Dojo in Germany, led the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements for 5 years, convened the first East-West scientific conference on organic farming in 1990, introduced worldwide organic certification and co-founded the Forest Stewardship Council Germany. Since 1995 Bernd has been developing organic initiatives in Yucatán, re-establishing traditional Mayan ways and means for the younger generations. When he is not in Mexico he advises the government of Mongolia on how to recover their lost forests in the Gobi desert.
EXPO workshop: Economy and sustainable forest management
Towards a Sylvi-Culture
Can anybody imagine a world without forests? In 1978, 40 years ago, I wrote my first paper on rainforest destruction. It was obvious that the destruction happened on purpose, financed by the banks, operated by large companies, supported by eager politicians, and the same people would join lamenting the loss of forests as if it were a natural plague happening just while nobody could do anything against it. I asked myself if people really could not imagine a world without forests, and therefore destroyed it. The consequences seemed so obvious, but were they not?
40 years went by, the trend accelerated, destruction runs faster than ever before. The more rainforest protection, conservation, reforestation and other programs were set-up, the more forest was destroyed. 30 years ago I decided to buy a devastated piece of former rainforest land and restored it. Today my little forest farm is home to the highest Mahogany trees and rainforest structure in the state of Yucatán. All other were cut, burnt or chipped to pieces. A few thousand years of destruction lie behind us, we must re-create. The world without forests already exists. We must build a new one. a world without forests would be a world without sense.
Creations happen in the mind, they are words, concepts, frequencies before they become material reality. We may plant trees, but a forest is more than the sum of its trees. It is a structure and a being of its own kind, intelligent, communicative, dynamic. We must dream it, pronounce it, before we plant the trees. Before we create forests we must be forests ourselves. This workshop is about creating real forests, guiding, leading, supporting and accompanying a process that is of its own nature, and yet very close to us, similar to who we are.
The main focus of this workshop is to learn see the forest amongst the trees, building a new human relationship with forests as healers and stewards. Our work will focus on team design and technology development for a forestry and agroforestry focussing on true sustainability: the use of local resources for prosperity and life-enhancement. The mechanisms of change, social and material, our ability to adapt and innovate lead into issues of community and village structures, spiritual design and social patterning. Once the complex jungles of the forest are untangled we find the easy tasks of being taking part, sharing a dance that trees have long been practicing before us. If we proceed our villages and cities will one day become like forests, and houses grow like trees.
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