Thursday, September 1, 2016

Worth more than medals

May I share some good news . . . some good news relating to trees?

In order to appreciate its significance, just glance at this map of the British Isles.

In particular, study the outline of Wales . . .  appreciate the size, note the considerable distance from north to south, from east to west.
Now, picture a forest the size of the area you've been studying . . . a beautiful, natural forest, an area of woodland free of invasive towns or industry, with no more than the occasional road winding its way between the trees.
Wouldn't you agree that this would constitute an impressively large forest?

However, and this is the good news, what we've been imagining is no myth.  It has very strong roots in the soil of reality.
Back in 2010, with the support of the Prince of Wales, a Welsh charity was founded.
It was born out of anxiety and determination . . . anxiety at the rapid disappearance of the world's rain-forests, and a determination to do something about it.

There was, however, a guiding stipulation . .  .   any areas of forest that it took under its wing needed to be the size of Wales itself.
It was an inspired idea, an idea which gave rise to the name of the charity, 'The Size of Wales'.

Since its inception, forests have been established on the continent of Africa in Guyana, the Republic of Congo, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Kenya which, together, cover an area the size of Wales.
Now, with the Olympics and Paralympics focusing the world's attention on South America, the charity has set its sights on Peru.

But the good news doesn't end there, it extends to the Olympic Games themselves.  The lasting legacy won't be limited to the precious medals that many athletes carried home.  Although they represent success, they lack the long-term value of the gifts handed to the athletes at the Opening Ceremony.

On entering the Maracana Stadium each athlete was given a precious seed, a 'Seed of Hope'.  When the Paralympics are over, these seeds will find a permanent home in the Deodoro Olympic Park to the west of Rio.  An area which, in time, will be known as The Athletes' Forest.

This was where the equestrian events took place . . . where Valegro gave his winning performance.
The Park also housed the modern pentathlon, shooting, rugby and hockey . . . not forgetting throngs of enthusiastic spectators.

The arenas, car-parks and tiers of seats will be removed.  What remains will be the perfect setting for a potential forest . . . and, who knows, the top-quality manure deposited by the horses could help the seeds to grow!

In the short term, let's celebrate those well-earned medals.
But, looking ahead, it's the more permanent items of good news that deserve our gratitude.
The news that The Size of Wales is establishing a global imprint . . . that The Athletes' Forest will literally take root in Brazil.

Athletes of the future may well have courage, ability and determination, but, above all else, they'll need oxygen . . .   this is the vital life-force that forests alone provide.

Do you see what anxiety and determination can achieve?
And, fortunately for all of us, The Size of Wales and the IOC are not alone in their endeavours.
To see what else is going on, click here . . . and marvel.