AF Workshop

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Welcome to an AF workshop at Belipola!

Analog Forestry is an approach to ecological restoration which uses natural forests as guides to create ecologically stable and socio-economically productive landscapes. Analog Forestry is a complex and holistic form of silviculture, which minimizes external inputs, such as agrochemicals and fossil fuels, instead fostering ecological function for resilience and productivity. Analog Forestry values not only ecological sustainability, but recognizes local rural communities’ social and economic needs.

Analog Foresty design incorporates a set of easy to use tools that allow designers to understand, evaluate and design forest ecosystems based on the principles observed in healthy, mature systems. The design tools are accessible to anyone with any level of experience working with landscapes.Analog Forestry is an approach to ecological restoration which uses natural forests as guides to create ecologically stable and socio-economically productive landscapes. Analog Forestry is a complex and holistic form of silviculture, which minimizes external inputs, such as agrochemicals and fossil fuels, instead fostering ecological function for resilience and productivity. Analog Forestry values not only ecological sustainability, but recognizes local rural communities’ social and economic needs.

Workshop topics include

  • What is a forest?
  • Principles of design
  • Mapping
  • Soil
  • Nursery management
  • Ecological farming
  • Ecological evaluation
  • Building robust databases
  • Gap analysis “Reading the forest”
  • Forest Garden Products
  • Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)

About Belipola

Belipola is the world’s first Analog Forestry testing site, and is therefore the ideal place to learn from the real world application of this design science.

We have several demonstration plots, a working nursery, an ecological farm, community kitchen and small processing unit. We offer training in our outdoor classroom as well as in the field to connect theories and concepts with practical hands-on exercises. You will also be able to see first hand how forest gardens are able to provide food, income and many other critical services.

To register please fill in the form here.

AF Training Aug_2016

Communications and Programs Coordinator

Belipola is hiring!

If you are interested to apply for communications and programs coordinator, please download the job description and follow the instructions to apply.  We look foreword to hearing from you!

Belipola Communications & Programs Coordinator JD

The two sides of the river are two worlds

这条河流的两边是两个世界 The two sides of the river are two worldsShen Wei 1

作者:沈巍 Author: Shen Wei
Time: 2,August,2015

When i came to belipola, I have benefited a lot from the Natural law.
When I put the picture of the forest to the wechat to share with friends, many of my friends told me that,oh you like pastoral life, we have a lot of mountains and forests…
There are a lot of forest in China not surprisingly, when you really understand Belipola, you will understand that the future is suitable for human development ideas.
Will see the entrance, this picture is my place in the stream, on the left, we have been very familiar:
People cut down trees here, and then planted ‘economic crops’, which are the farmers’ living and income sources, to grow more crops, should cut more trees, or add fertilizers and pesticides.
The mountain looks still green, are utilized, also increased the income, but there are several problems as follows:
1. Cultivation of a single crop long-term,soil nutrients will be destroyed, the soil will slowly change; long-term to see, crop yields will decline.
2. more and more trees are being cut down, destroying the ecological chain, a lot of animals will migrate. When the ecological environment can not be a natural circulation, the mountain’s nutrient is increasingly impaired, long-term, perhaps one day is no longer suitable for planting crops.
3, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, the soil, water quality and human body have a subtle impact.

The right side of the stream is the way of belipola, in about 30 years ago, there were not so many trees, almost a deserted mountain, how to become so lush forest now?
shen 9
‘Take care of the earth’
This concept, when I come to Sri Lanka, I met a girl of 90 years——ciao fang tould me. I am instantly attracted, how beautiful and look far ahead from a high plane! This is a part of the idea of permaculture .
People can consider the interests of the earth, how to take good care of it is very good, and secondly to meet the needs of people. This is a long-term, sustainable thinking.
‘Biological diversity’
30 years ago, the owner of the forest began to plant a variety of plants, there are particularly tall, hi Yang tree, there are more than 20 meters tall tree, there are also a variety of high shade plants, flowers, grass, but also planted a number of local fruit trees, such as butter fruit, pineapple, coffee, coconut trees, etc., are interspersed with some, not a piece of.
Today, 30 years later, you can see, there are trees everywhere, attracting a lot of little animals, every morning I wake up by squirrels and birds, a few more monkeys here, on the other alien to the forest, you can feel a lot of micro climate…
Of course, there are also growing vegetables and other economic crops, to see what is the difference between the garden and the next.
2年前,Trudy(斯里兰卡人shen 5)和Sion(美国人),来到了这里,他们相识于缅甸,都热爱自然的生活,相恋后,决定回到Judy的故乡,用心在这里生活,用了两年的时间建了很多自然建筑,房舍,厨房,学习教室,食材花园,有蔬菜园,香料园,植物草本园……
Two years ago, Trudy (Sri Lanka) and Sion (American),they met in Burma, have a passion for the life of the natural, fell in love and decided to return to Trudy’s hometown, live here by heart, they built a lot of natural building, houses, kitchen learning classroom, food garden, vegetable garden, Oriental Garden, herb garden…for two years.
When I stepped into the garden. It is near the river, there are a few large monocultures, many kinds of vegetables, spices,many kinds of flowers (heard that the fragrance of the flowers can deworming), forming a such a variety of vegetable garden.
In the vegetable garden, a small area of forest, where it is specialized to cultivate a variety of vegetables, fruits, trees, flowers and plants.
A few days ago, a few French people in the river planted 20 trees, in the right place, in the forest need.shen 4
This is a place for fattening.
Obviously, the soil will become more and more rich, and the diversity of forests will be more abundant, which represents the relationship between people and nature in the future, while the other side is being replaced.
I think a lot,what is the kind of relationship between nature and human? When humans put themselves in the position of the nature, human beings begin to enter into arrogance and ignorance.
Luckily,on this society, there are always some practitioners, ideas of the enlightenment such as those who rebuild forests, such as sion, judy……Thank you! I will follow your mind.

Belipola in the Rainy Season

December 2014

I arrived at the tropical heaven of Belipola in the height of the Sri Lankan rainy season. It was a time of indulgence for the teeming forest vegetation and critters, and the nearby river gurgled with hearty laughter. Life filled up to the brim and overflowed at every turn and corner. The New Year was approaching and I was flying home on the 1st. My eyes were blurry from nursing a conjunctivitis infection and my brain was foggy from not knowing what to do next with my life. With all that was going on inside of me, the forest provided a safe place to just be. The perpetual rain gifted the perfect excuse to sit back and rehabilitate, and soak everything in.

Like my heart, the landscape wSprawling 2 acre forest kitchen gardenas threatening to burst at the seams in various parts of the country. At Christmas, even the railways had to pause because of landslides and floods. At the man-made Analog forest of Belipola however, the thriving cacophony of trees and vegetation planted lovingly by so many beings for the past 30 years kept the ground in place, and allowed the rain to trickle as gently as possible through the deep leaf litter and through the roots of the trees, into the depths of the earth –  exchanging, dialoguing, storing, an ever flowing river of memory, the sacred ripples of information that has been cycled and re-cycled, weaved strand by strand, string by string, particle by particle, wave by wave since the dawn of the planet’s birth.

A tall ice cream bean tree fell in the height of a storm one night. Small gullies appeared in a few vulnerable spots, and like fresh wounds, were in need of tender loving care. At times, the heart too opens up like a gully, or a flower. It must bare itself and surrender to the unknown yet hold its fragile petals together; come rain, or sunshine or storm. It has to take the risk, it wants to invite, it wants to divulge and indulge, it wants to remember, it wants to be inoculated by the likes of winged creatures such as butterflies and bees and fairies even, similar to the ones that go about blessing and teasing the flowers in the forest of Belipola.

Like the bustling bees that hovered above them, the hardworking two legged forest stewards Piyal, Sashi and Nuwan pottered about, pollinating the gullies with embankments, and rip raps and vegetation to create buffers against rain pouring on bare soil that threatened to take everything away. I watched the gully transform as it held on to whatever it could that prevented it from being washed away by the rain, and I allowed my moist and tender heart to be stirred and stirred some more by the fecundity of the dense, information rich landscape that spoke its wisdom all around me, in the air, in the sounds, in the water, in the vegetation, in the food, and in the smiles of the gentle gracious people of Lanka.

Forest inspirationsI stayed indoors most of the time:- contemplating, staring into space, reading a book from Trudy and Sion’s extensive library,  making a fire for the rocket stove, or preparing a meal with greens harvested from their sprawling 2 acre vegetable forest garden. To get to the veggie patch, one would have to walk along the forest floor and down to the valley where the river is, but not without first making duly contributions to the leeches that would be waiting patiently for their entrance fee. I loathed the leeches.  They were difficult to like or even respectfully avoid. The bigger ones were easy enough to flick off but the tiny baby munchlings held on to the skin like magnet. One technique that worked involved rolling a leech into a ball between the fingers until it loosened its grasp …but not without it first leaving behind a souvenir of sorts lodged in its bite. In Malaysia, leeches are used in traditional medicine to treat various types of ailments in the skin, blood or nerves even, though I was never too fond of the idea.

Nowhere to be found in Belipola during the dry season apparently, the leeches come out to play, be merry and breed and breed some more during the rainy season. If you keep to the paths that are free of leaf litter in the forest, you can more or less avoid being bitten, provided that you walk fast enough and wear protective footwear. Every now and then however, a leech would find its way into the nose of one of the dogs, aggravating a sneezing frenzy which would abruptly end as soon as the leech fell down like a ripe little fruit, bloated and pregnant with at least a raindrop of blood. Except for the wild hogs, most of the non-arboreal frequenters at Belipola avoided the forest floor like a plague during the rainiest times. The legion of Samurai leeches guarded against invaders who were daring enough to traverse on the wet, slippery aForest garden teand fragile ground; deterring movement, or any kind of aggressive activity because this is a time when the forest was most tender. It is deeply opening its heart and receiving, like a fully bloomed flower. It is opening every part of its being for inoculation so it can give back come dry season when the forest slowly releases the water stored in its aquifers and cools the air. Just like the walls on Trudy and Sion’s mud brick cottage, and like my lungs and skin; the forest had expanded and was unconditionally absorbing all the life giving codecs that fell from the sky; – converging wisdom from oceans, rivers, and trees coming together from different parts of the world, cross-pollinating consciousness between the anything that was in everything, while also taking from us something in return, something that slowed time down, and expanded the beingness of life into an ocean that was at the orchestration of the ebb and flow of the moon’s song. It was a sacred time indeed, a quiet time for looking inside and filling up our wells, and encouraging new shoots to sprout from the dark, leech and mulch infested forest floor. It was most certainly not the place for footsteps.

That month in Belipola was humbling for me. Unlike the forests that knows its purpose and receives full heartedly knowing how it would give back, I had to learn how to receive, without knowing if I could ever give back or how to give back. I felt so helpless, so vulnerable, so open to receiving because that was all I could do, and Trudy and Sion were gracious enough to support me without asking anything in return. They were grateful to open up their home and the beautiful forest Belipola that had blessed their life for the past two years, beyond their wildest imagination and they wanted nothing more than for others to experience what they had the privilege of living and experiencing on a daily basis.

In the forest of Belipola, there was a sense of knowing when to let the forest be, and let it do its thing, and when to potter about and actually do something. We do have our place in the forest, if we can respect its place in our life. I had the good fortune of experiencing what can thrive out of such a knowingness. The beauty of forest mimicry systems such as the Analog forestry system demonstrated and promoted by Belipola is that it can be applied in a hundred and one ways, and in all sorts of scales and sizes! Belipola, and what it stands for is a journey not to be missed in this lifetime, in our homes, in our backyards, in the forests where we dwell, and live and make love to the world, the entire world.

Looking back at those precious times, and being so grateful for where I am today, I cannot express how crucial those incubating days were. To receive full heartedly is an art. When one is able to do so, one gets filled and that filling up becomes an overflowing, without any effort, only an allowing. When we receive full heartedly like the forests, there will come a time when we become springs that can give endlessly. This is what each and every one of us are capable of being, if we can first let be and let

Thank you Trudy and Sion, Chris, Makrele, Thamindu, Bhagya, Mega, Shirani, Piyal, Dr. Ranil (whom we heard of so much but never got to meet) and all the wonderful staff at Belipola, the trees, the plants, the soil, the animals, the insects, the critters, the river, the sky, the healing waters and wind and the myriad of beings that dwell therein. Thanks for letting me into the heart of your forest and home … the forest that I now carry in my home everywhere.

Much love,
Sabina Arokiam

Forests – our life support system

Belipola from afar

July 2014

A forest is as an organism that has specific functions, which contribute to it as a whole. It is also a process, dynamic and constantly moving across landscapes through time. It is not just one level or stage, but a series of stages that moves from one to another. It consists of the grassland or farm, the first stage, to the next stages of small trees and shrubs, growing and evolving to the mature stages that consist of large trees with big canopies, smaller trees and shrubs, vines and many other layers that fill it with diversity. Many people see the forest as being a tree-dominated ecosystem, but actually trees only make up 1% of the forest diversity. The other 99% are all the other species, including animals and other plant species.

Forests are our life support system on this planet. They provide so many free services that we don’t put any value to, yet we take them for granted. Without the forests, we wouldn’t have clean air, fresh water, food, shelter, building materials, and soil. Forests take in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, which without, we would not be able to live even for a few minutes. They clean polluted water, through the water cycle, and they produce rain. Forests provide us with so much, yet we are yet to see their value and appreciate them.

“The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life activity; it affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axe-man who destroys it.”

Gautama Buddha

 Buddha describes the forest in the most appropriate way, as he recognized what it is and what it gives to us. The forest, like all organisms also have hearts, souls and spirits. It feels in the same way we do, and it responds to changes in the same way we do. If we were still enough to be able to learn and listen to it, we would be able to get many lessons. With having such insight and understanding, we would be able to develop a deep respect for all living and non-living things. And from this we will be able to be tolerant and respectful of all beings, no matter how different they are from us.

We can gain many insights from the forest if we see it as our teacher. We can learn how to problem solve and to understand situations clearly so we are better able to see solutions. We can learn how to change perspectives and see from a different view, in order to find solutions. And in seeing through different lenses, we learn how to see problems as opportunities, and as areas where we can expand and get further insight and knowledge. By mimicking the forest structure and functions, and creating our own purpose and intention for our garden, we can learn how to apply the same principles to our daily life so we can be flexible and adapt to changes when needed. This deep insight comes from the wisdom of our ancient friends, who have learned this through their evolution on this planet.

By Trudy Juriansz, inspired by Belipola, Dr. Ranil and all the beings