Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eco Colour ... from land far south-west of here!

I am flying in with a quick post... although I could spend ages putting a post together on the work of India Flint I will link you instead to some sites where you can explore things yourself. She needs no introduction to many... but just in case ... from the home page of her website:

"i am an artisan and writer specializing in bio-regional ecologically sustainable plant dyes ...welcome to my workroom"

* india's photo of the workroom in the territory

And what a workroom it is... dessert floor, hotel sink, plane seat or kitchen table ... the tone of everything she does is authoritative without the attitude... the real thing one might say. 
And not only that... she makes space for others, shares endlessly, is widely and sometimes rudely and outrageously appropriated without acknowledgement ...but then has the chutzpah to set things straight in style with no nonsense!

She is a conduit between past and future ... and oh how we need people of authentic vision and application like hers... in every single facet of human life at this time. Essentially her work is midwifing a whole deeper sense of what's possible for using what we find in nature around us... and in our neighbourhoods, homes and cupboards for that matter.

india's photo ... sharing

Nothing is surface... nothing in excess. All so artfully and continually brought in and pieced together... part of a continuity of cultural practices on the one hand and a pioneer on the other. Go explore... see what I mean. Many are continuing or refinding a love of fabric, textiles and such they inherited from family and community... all round the globe people industriously pursue this tradition... or innovate things anew. 
Perhaps without India though... we might not have seen such a singular need to do it with such enormous shared integlligence and depth of learning... with vision for the artfulness of each part of the working, teaching and sharing process.... words and all!

India's photo ... from her life on the move!

india's photo ... botanical alchemist at large

india's photo... earth is close by.

For anyone unfamiliar with the work dip into India's blog for entry into a fascinating world of making colour and cultivating a practice that extends from her land out into the whole world. In gentle, coaxing, indirect ways our minds are engaged and habits challenged. Each part of the work and living is so utterly responsive to the challenges of this time... it its an intelligent reminder and call to each of us to ask ourselves ... what of us?

Colour's long shaped my life ... ever since my parents gave me colour pencils aged five. Perennially its the thing most have commented on about my work - for good or bad. In Melbourne from 1994 to 1998 I offered consecutive Tuesday night 8 week courses 'Colour workshop' at the Collingwood shop-front Studio business I ran as Themata Studio. More recently I've been reminded how challenging my class exercises were (thankfully they used the word fun too) when I would ask the group to draw the smell of coffee or the feel of raw wool or some far-fetched thing.

What was going on for me in those classes was my need to address the distance between the world and us... between nature and us... our senses and our minds.... between colour and feeling. This was my laboratory and I was finding my way back to the things that mattered in my own art work..and I was bringing people along for the exploration... humbly knowing all the long that I was learning far more than I was teaching!

The depth of India's immersion in colour and ecology could lead me to be immensely intimidated by how little I know. But I'm not covetous...  awe is more the word. Grateful people like her bring these things to life that they choose to live by, share what they've learned, and give people an opportunity to be saturated in valuable ideas in exchange for the rewards of doing that. If anything I take inspiration from her to go back and pull together the most worthwhile learnings of my own unfolding practice and experience.... to be more fully conscious of and engaged with the processes that are arising out of my own nature and relationship with nature.... whatever the limitations of those two things are.

The prize we need to be looking to, at this time in human history, is surely to be working in the direction of sustaining the natural inheritance we came into this world able to appreciate. Nothing is so valuable, so priceless as the living systems into which we were born. Our greatest task is to see ways to be active participants in the challenge to preserve what we possibly can... no matter what we do or where we are.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Planning to visit some interesting places in a few months!

I had to post on this as I am going to have a chance to go visit all kinds of fascinating places in London this October.... and this is one place I hope to get to... very close by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

You can read much more by visiting the website and seeing what's possible to view online as well as onsite. Botany is one of the departments with a large collection and research being carried out. Of course I had to see what this was all about. Click on the green text below to read more under each title.

Seed plants (spermatophytes)

What are seed plants?

Seed plants are characterised by the development of a seed after fertilisation. The seed usually contains an embryo and a food supply, all surrounded by a protective coat.
  • Dried specimen of the common poppy, Papaver rhoeas L, from the Museum's herbarium
    Find out about the two major groups of seed plants: angiosperms and gymnosperms.
  • Wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa,  growing in woodland
    Learn more about the abundance and habitats of angiosperms and gymnosperms.
  • Fossil of a wind-dispersed seed of Acer pseudocampestre
    Evolution of seed plants
    When did seed plants evolve?
  • A scanning electron microscope image of a blueberry (Vaccinium sp.)
    The impact of seed plants on our lives
    Seed plants play a host of important roles in our lives, from providing food to controlling pollution, but can also cause problems such as hayfever.
  • Solanum herculeum, a narrow endemic from southern Spain
    Seed plant research
    Seed plant taxonomic expertise within the Botany Department includes the Asteraceae, Convolvulaceae, Hypericaceae, Orobanchaceae, Solanaceae and Urticaceae families. Find out more about related research projects.
  • Anemone pavonina, a flowering Mediterranean plant species
    Seed plant collections
    Find out about our seed plant collections, an important resource for the scientific community. The earliest specimens originate from the 17th century and some collections provide time series that make it possible to study climate and vegetation changes.

    View of the Museum from the Wildlife Garden
    View of the Museum from the Wildlife Garden

    Opening hours

    The Botany Department is open to visitors Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays) from 9.00 to 17.30 or by special arrangement. Please contact us first by phone or email to arrange your visit.

    Sister institutes

    The Department of Botany at the Natural History Museum holds national and international collections. Equivalent organisations in the UK are the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. We have strong links with both.
    We also have links with the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, exchanging staff and ideas. We collaborate with other botanical institutes and laboratories around the world.
    Unlike the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and Edinburgh, the Natural History Museum does not maintain its own botanical garden. Some studies are carried out in our Wildlife Garden but our living collections are held at the Chelsea Physic Garden.
    For details on how to contact us go to departmental information.

    Welcome to Chelsea Physic Garden

    Situated in the heart of London, this 'Secret Garden' is a centre of education, beauty and relaxation. Chelsea Physic Garden was founded by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London in 1673 for its apprentices to study the medicinal qualities of plants. Throughout the 1700s it was one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. It is London’s oldest botanic garden and a unique living museum.
    Late night openings 2011From 29th June to 7th September the Garden will be open until 10pm on Wednesday evenings (Last entry 8:30pm). These late openings go hand in hand with our Summer Evening Talks which this year are based on Trees.
    For the full list of Tree talks click here.

    TREES - Summer Evening Talks - 29th June - 31st August
    Over 100 different named trees grow at Chelsea Physic Garden, from pomegranates and cork trees to grapefruits and olives, cedars and pines to mulberries, magnolias and eucalyptus. The Garden probably has the greatest variety of living trees in one place in central London. Many are rare in Britain...and every one of them has a story.
    As part of the UN International Year of Forests, Chelsea Physic Garden celebrates trees: their origins, anatomy, uses and mythologies and trees will be the special theme for the Garden's 2011 summer evening talks.
    Hugh Johnson, well known for his wine books and also an authority on trees, will kick off the TREES season with a fascinating look at exotic trees in the English landscape.
    Summer Talks tickets are £15 (including Garden admission)/£10 for Friends of the Garden.
    For full programme details please click here.

    The Chelsea Physic Garden has developed a major role in public education focusing on the renewed interest in natural medicine. The Garden of World Medicine which is Britain's first garden of ethnobotany (or the study of the botany of different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples) is laid out together with a new Pharmaceutical Garden.
    More history of the Garden can be found on the page about the Historical Walk, as well as the following links:

    Union Jack flagChelsea Physic Garden - A Brief History (PDF/484Kb)

    Picture of Hans Sloane's statue through a plant bed

    How charming..... there is a cafe there called " Tangerine Dream Cafe" and they serve things like

    Fig, thyme and almond tart*

    Tunisian citrus almond cake*
    Lemon tart*
    Lavender scones with clotted cream and homemade seasonal jam
    Fabulous brownies*
    *All served with creme fraiche where desired
    RefreshmentsPots of Tea
    Real coffee, espresso, cappucino
    Homemade lemonade
    Homemade ginger beer
    Real ale and lager

    I am going to be very busy getting around I can much to see...  
    if only I could make it to Paris....

     from France... these looked so interesting...
    Les collections de végétaux vasculaires sont très importantes au Muséum, au sein de l'imposant herbier national mais aussi sous forme de collections vivantes, dans les serres et les jardins. Les végétaux vasculaires, rassemblant les plantes à graines et les fougères, possèdent racines, tiges, feuilles, et vaisseaux permettant la circulation de la sève entre les racines et les parties aériennes.

Monday, July 11, 2011


drawing by Priya at the Plum Tree

I wanted to open this post with imagery as it would be rather text heavy other wise. Priya is from India and at one stage studied at the Queensland College of Arts here in Brisbane. She first wrote last year to explain this....maybe I found her wonderful blog first ... I do forget ... I adore her graphic drawings often form nature and of course the seed pods stayed in my mind and I had to post them here.

from tumblr-  click here.

This photograph is by Priya as well as the above drawing ... she wrote and explained it was one of may photographs she had archived at a Tumblr site which was hacked and lost. I can imagine so many beautiful images like this have also disappeared... so I'm very sorry to hear that Priya! You can visit her other tumblr site here.

ON another note today Heather Pierce kindly sent an update on recent material published as the outcome of the Dresden conference 2 weeks ago... called the Dresden Declaration it is part of the work being done in preparation for the Rio + 20 conference next year in July.

Read this detailed Pdf here from the Dresden Delaration. (Full version).

Below is an excerpt.

We, the participants of the international conference "For life, for the future: Biosphere
reserves and climate change", held in Dresden on 27 and 28 June 2011, issue the
following declaration:
Climate change mitigation, adaptation to climate change and the conservation of biological
diversity are among today's key environmental challenges. Rising to these challenges requires
strong political commitment and decisive action worldwide. In many cases we already have the
knowledge and technology to change our development path. We now have to mobilise our
resources and creativity in order to further intensify action towards sustainable development -
including changes in our behaviour.
The International Coordinating Council of the UNESCO "Man and the Biosphere" (MAB)
Programme convened for the first time in 1971 and laid the foundations for a new type of
conservation area - biosphere reserves. It declared the harmonious development of man and
nature to be its key goal. The idea of biosphere reserves has met with growing approval
worldwide and over the past four decades has become a great success. Biosphere reserves
represent a global network of model regions in which sustainable forms of use and options for
adaptation to changing ecological, economic and social conditions can be tested, involving all
The world network of over 560 biosphere reserves in more than 100 countries, established in the
framework of the UNESCO MAB Programme, adds the wealth of experience gathered over 40
years in and with model regions for sustainable development to climate change mitigation and
adaptation, and aims to make a substantial contribution to these processes as well as to the
conservation of biological diversity. We expect current global climate protection measures to
also satisfy the urgent necessities of biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use.
Since its establishment the MAB Programme has pursued innovative approaches in research,
monitoring, education and capacity building, management and in implementing model projects.
These approaches go far beyond nature conservation and are suitable as models for a
sustainable way of life. Biosphere reserves are thus an important element of safeguarding a
liveable earth for the future of generations to come.

UNESCO conference calls for better protection of biological diversity when mitigating climate change

On June 28 an international conference in Dresden concluded with an appeal to politicians to better use the comprehensive experience of biosphere reserves when planning and implementing measures of climate change mitigation and adaptation. The participants called for a closer link between measures addressing climate change, poverty alleviation and biological diversity, respectively.

Some 280 high-level experts from 80 countries discussed biosphere reserves and climate change during a two-day conference organized by UNESCO, the German Ministry for the Environment, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and the German Commission for UNESCO.  

The list of demands contained in the "Dresden Declaration" includes items such as strengthening the role of land use in carbon sequestration and developing new models of financing. 

Biosphere reserves are also called upon to "develop and expand partnerships with the private sector in order to identify, develop and promote local, national and international markets for sustainably produced goods and services and to advance a climate-friendly economy in the territories." In order to enable biosphere reserves to implement their duties and responsibilities, the conference participants claim sufficient financial and human resources in administrations.

Since 1971, the UNESCO programme "Man and the Biosphere" (MAB) explores sustainable forms of exploitation of the environment by humans. The central element of the MAB Programme is a global network of model regions for sustainable development: These "UNESCO biosphere reserves" work towards synergizing ecology, economy and social development. Currently there are 580 such sites in 114 countries. The intergovernmental governing board of the UNESCO MAB Programme has endorsed the Dresden Declaration. 

Short link to the "Dresden Declaration":

IISD is pleased to announce the launch of Sustainable Development Policy & Practice
A Knowledgebase of International Activities Preparing for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio +20) 

Click here to read an excellent Biodiversity update page - 8th July, 2011.

An article form April was I thought worth posting here for more information on Biosphere reserves.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves: An international network for sustainable development learning

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) promotes collaboration for attaining three important global objectives: (i) conservation of biodiversity; (ii) sustainable use of its components; and (iii) equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the access and utilization of genetic resources and transfer of relevant technologies. The adoption in 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, of a new protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) to promote international co-operation with regard to objective (iii), will open a new era for international co-operation on biodiversity policy and practice to demonstrate that conservation and use of biodiversity are necessary conditions for sustainable development.
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves, now counting 564 places in 109 countries, has been developed by the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO, which commemorates its 40th anniversary in 2011. The biosphere reserve concept originated in the 1970s within epistemic communities of ecosystem ecology and park management. Although its origin was within the milieu of conservation of natural areas, including genetic resources contained therein, the concept of biosphere reserve has evolved since then to fully embrace the notion of sustainable development. UNESCO’s adoption, in 1995, of the Seville Strategy and Statutory Framework for the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), established biosphere reserves as land/seascapes of resident human communities, a mosaic of land and resource uses and ecosystems and biodiversity of local, national and/or global significance. The Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves (2008-2013) now under implementation aims to make all biosphere reserves become learning places for sustainable development practice.
Nearly 20 years after its adoption in 1992, the CBD enjoys near universal membership of Nation States. Most countries now have biodiversity policies and strategies for implementing the Convention. However, as evidenced by the mixed results of the efforts of States to significantly minimize biodiversity loss by 2010, integration of the Convention’s objectives into sustainable development has not been an easy task.
A recent study (Persha et al, 2011)1compared data sets from 84 sites in 6 countries from East Africa and South Asia to draw conclusions and lessons on conditions that promote joint improvements in biodiversity conservation and forest based livelihoods. This socio-ecological study demonstrated that reliable land tenure for forest communities is an important condition for generating concomitant benefits for both biodiversity and livelihoods.
During the international decade of biodiversity (2011-2020), integrating the three objectives of the CBD into land/seascape-level sustainable development practices would require similar comparative studies based on a global network of places. WNBR could well be such a network. Individual biosphere reserves strive to link conservation of biodiversity with socio-economic improvements for communities. Participatory and action research, monitoring, education, stakeholder dialogue and collaborative management tools and approaches are used for building those links between conservation and human wellbeing. Emerging financial arrangements such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks (REDD+), as well as broader carbon and ecosystem services markets, are attracting the attention of biosphere reserve administrators as opportunities for their efforts to forge links between conservation of biodiversity, human wellbeing, and learning and knowledge construction for sustainable development.
The added value that WNBR offers for international collaboration on comparative studies for sustainable development may be self-evident, but its realization could be made much easier if country-level UN strategies and plans, under frameworks such as “One UN” and the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), provide incentives to Governments, NGOs, private sector and other stakeholders to use these sites as experimental areas. For example, the Rio+20 Conference due in 2012 will discuss, amongst others, institutional arrangements for sustainable development. Comparative studies in biosphere reserves with a variety of arrangements in given political and cultural contexts could generate significant lessons and insights into ways and means of attaining the three objectives of the CBD within the broader framework of regional sustainability. A post-2012 era of closer co-operation among bi- and multi-lateral development agencies and emerging private sector and civil society initiatives for using biosphere reserves as learning laboratories could generate information, knowledge and experience for simultaneously improving the prospects for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation and sustainable development.
1Persha, L., Agrawal, A., & Chhatre, A. 2011. Social and ecological synergy: local rule making, forest livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. Science, 331, pp 1606-1608. 25 March 2011.

This event in Italy on Saturday just caught my eye too.


Climate Change and Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: State of Knowledge, Risks and Opportunities

This seminar will include presentations covering: animal genetic resources; plant genetic resources; aquatic genetic resources; forest genetic resources; micro-organism genetic resources; and invertebrate genetic resources. Additional discussions will include setting the policy scene, and agriculture biodiversity and climate change. It is organized by the Commission for Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  
date:16 July 2011  location:Roma (Lazio), Italy  contact:Eva Hain, CGRFA Secretariat  phone:+39 06 5705 4981  fax:+39 06 5705 5246 www:

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