Forest health, our health

One of my favorite Ohio-based organizations is the Arc of Appalachia.  My introduction to the Arc came during a 2010 tree education course that rocked my world, bringing the forest to life in a way I’d never experienced.  To borrow from this upcoming Sunday’s passage about Moses and the burning bush, it was the first time I glimpsed the plant world aflame with God.   

This is how the Arc describes its workWe acquire and steward wildlands in the Ohio region.  We create sanctuaries where people can connect with the natural world.  We teach about our forest heritage to inspire a global conservation ethic. We honor, in our work and our teachings, our Native American legacies. 

I like that they use the word sanctuaries.  We know something about that.

To date, the Arc has raised over $16 million dollars to purchase and preserve over 7000 acres of Ohio’s most bio-diverse land.

And they have a new campaign.  They are fundraising for and intend to purchase 108 acres of what they call “a superlative forest” adjacent to Ash Cave in Hocking Hills.  They are closing in 5 days.  How often do we have an opportunity to help preserve a beautiful piece of land in your own state for generations of people, and all the creatures and plant life that have made it home?  Give them $10 or $1000 by donating HERE!  Be sure to check the box for the Ash Cave Eastern Reserve Campaign.

Something that caught my attention in the description of this property is that it contains hardly any invasive plants.  I have read before that when forests are healthy, when the complex web of life has been spared major disturbances in recent generations, it is much harder for aggressive “invasive” plants to find a foothold for colonization. 

There are parallels here for how human minds and communities work.  Sanctuary communities, with a dense social fabric, are more likely to protect the well-being of their neighbors.  Healthy minds, nurtured by a complex web of ideas, are less susceptible to racism and outlandish conspiracy theories. 

We need healthy forests to keep teaching us about health and life itself.  I’m grateful we have an organization like the Arc in our state committed to this work, and hope to someday walk and enjoy the trails of the Ash Cave Eastern Reserve.

Also, after writing this blog I noticed that today’s Dispatch carries an article about this land campaign.