Joss has, with community members, reforested 100s of acres around their community from desertified conditions. What was once treeless, is now a forest--not an easy task. The heat here is tremendous, water is limited, and two large obstacles to overcome were finding seeds to plant and then germinating them.
This dilema led Joss and colleagues to the sacred groves of India where tampering and culling forest is forbidden. With seeds in hand and local knowledge, they were able to establish nurseries and restablish Tropical dry semi-deciduous forest! This is precisely the kind of work that is needed all over the world and a model system.
The sacred grove we visited is studied by Eliza and striking because it was significantly more 'modern' than I imagined. It is about 8 hectares with a road running though the middle to the temple. There is also electricity. The temple within the forest is highly regarded which means that it is at risk from humans...this is something I have also seen in Ethiopia, the more important a church/temple the more people visit and the more it is degraded.
I am fascinated by these forests and their ecological importance particularly in light of how they facilitate reforestation and preserve ecosystem processes (water purification, carbon storage, nutrient cycling, pollination). I wll be thinking about these forests for years!