Wild Aligned is on a mission to change culture not climate
Wild Aligned is an exciting new collaboration between C Level and our reforestation partners.
It has been born during the disruption, confusion and tragedy inflicted on the world over the last two years. It is a response that looks towards a different framing of humanities relationship with nature and environment. One that celebrates the value of ‘wild’ and of ‘alignment’ rather than ‘fight’. Wild is a misused word. It is associated with fear and danger and being out of control. Whereas what it really means in being in a more pure state, being true to nature, true to our original selves. It is being un-caged and un-domesticated.
It has also been born from listening. Listening to the people we work with, and to those we are in service to. Looking for synchronicity, or rather paying it full attention as it has arrived in bucket fulls.
What is Wild Aligned?
“A next level engagement programme where you can choose to get involved with the most innovative European regeneration projects as well as the best global indigenous reforestation projects. The invitation is to first ensure you are fully carbon balanced through our verified nature & community based projects…and then ‘double down’ on climate and biodiversity action, while going the extra mile in terms of engagement and inspiration.
“Simply put Wild Aligned is indigenous tree planting that provides you with a new experience. You can fund tree planting while also getting directly involved in projects. There are 3 main experiential opportunities evolving with the programme. First help the project partners with physical work. Second help by providing skills and time. And third, the future possibility to work with C Level and our partners to create simple small scale gatherings where our experienced facilitators can take everyone on a deep dive into the true meaning of ‘sustainability’ and radical carbon reduction.
What are the benefits of Wild Aligned?
- Double your impact and engagement
- Support exciting early stage regen and rewilding projects
- A solid metric of trees planted within projects with strong vision
- Additional CO2 benefits
- Connection with inspirational founders
- Opportunities to engage from where you are by providing pro bono support
- Longer term, participation through online and in the field events
How does it work?
This is where it gets really exciting. Where to start? With the children!
In 2019 I was approached by Anna Richardson for advice on setting up a new project. It sounded great, a strong vision from a woman who spends a lot of her time as a Forest School teacher and in Nature Connection work. She was about to publish The Children’s Forest, a treasure trove of outdoor ceremonies, crafts, songs and wild food recipes and in the words of Tree Sisters founder Clare Dubois, ‘what greater gift could you give your children than to help them fall back in love with the forests?”
Anna’s vision was of a network of small, beautiful rewilding sites as permanent bases for local forest schools. Each site would be centred around a fire pit, the Children’s Fire, and around that the children themselves would plant the centre grove, spiralling outwards into the land.
I love this vision, and was immediately presented with the chance to invite Anna to present her vision to a room full of management consultants. We travelled to London to present to our new Carbon Balanced client PEN Partnership. After a short ceremony in the ring of Plane trees in Green Park, Anna dived into the deep end and a packed room.
PEN engaged straight away that afternoon. They really liked the idea of doubling down into Wild Aligned and they wanted all of the action to be with Children’s Forest. The project spoke to them, and over the coming weeks they provided pro bono support to Anna and her team. This was part of the magic that moved the project from vision to reality, and by the time PEN had been joined by Bluefield, another Carbon Balanced client, Children’s Forest was an organisation, with a bank accountant and a growing ‘mycelium’ network of Children’s Forests across the country.
Down on the Iberian Peninsula in the summer of 2017 all hell was breaking loose. We were supposed to be down there, visiting what has become one of the Reflorestar Portugal reforestation hubs, a place called Gravito. Gravito was a stunning and beautiful retreat centre in its own river valley. The Nature Connection and Embodiment Work that happens at Gravito was renowned. But Europe was gripped in a heatwave that led us to cancel the trip. The fires that ripped through Portugal at that same time destroyed Gravito and burnt the valley. Dozens of people lost their lives close by and from the C Level base in Brighton an eyrie daytime red sky covered the Isles of Britain as the climate hurricane travelled north, sucking in smoke from the burning forests of the Iberian Peninsula.
Gravito is up running having risen like a Phoenix, and the valley is greened as it has evolved into a project very much centred on healing humanities relationship with the earth. Specifically shifting from monoculture to polyculture, from alien blanket Eucalyptus to a return of the Native Oaks and Chestnuts and the whole suite of water retaining biodiversity that goes with these keystone species. The only parts of the valleys that did not burn in 2017 were the remnant pockets of the old and naturally fire resistant indigenous forest. The future rewilded is clear.
Reflorestar Portugal has also risen as a grass roots citizens initiative since the wild fires swept through Pedrogao Grande. Along with the partnership with Gravito, they have 3 more syntropic reforestation hubs. Experimental sites to birth new native forests and a new culture. One that in the words of Susana and Marina, founders of Reflorestar ‘thinks like a forest’. The work on the ground is hard and is still being bootstrapped, but it is an area and a project that C Level is closely aligned with and one that clients are also looking towards. At some stage soon we hope to be able to run an experiental week at Gravito.
Forests without Frontiers
Nico founded ‘Forests’ as she calls the charity, to engage the music and creative arts in culture change around climate action. As a DJ from Transylvania, based in Brighton, Nico is focussed on rewilding and reforestation in the Great Carpathian Forests of Transylvania and Romania. It’s a big rewilding area and the scale and biodiversity of the place make it one of Europe’s key areas for forest based rewilding, alongside places like the Abruzzo mountains in central Italy, and the remnant ancient Caledonian forest in Scotland.
Forests without Frontiers is attracting a lot of interest and they have already planted some 60,000 trees. The last time we gathered with the wonderful Forests team was in November this year, when they ran a beautiful evening fundraiser with a substantial amount of donated art auctioned some stunning forest art pieces, and put on a delicious plant based banquet at Plateau. Clients like Bright Local attended and Bluefield’s CEO Howard gave a passionate speech before the DJ’s moved in.
Trees for Life
This year C Level began working with several UK manufactures who wanted to engage with our Carbon Balanced certification programme. As is often the case, people ask what projects are available in the UK, to which the quick response is always none. The reasons for this are mainly C Level’s overarching interest in ‘additionally’ a clumsy term that means we and our clients are helping people create something new in the world in the form of forests. It’s easier to achieve this in the Plan Vivo sites around the world where we work. Harder in projects where private landowners are looking to make cash from their land, and often have other ways to fund this work. Which brings in the other key issue for us of climate justice. Our projects under Plan Vivo work with communities on their own land. So they create, by design, sustainable livelihoods for some of the people most impacted by climate change.
Anyway, with the demand for UK projects cropping up again, we undertook a 2 month review of verified carbon offset projects based on ecosystems in the UK, and included the lens of which project what would also fit best into our new Wild Aligned programme. The good news was that projects do exist that fit. Projects that have real vision and are offering real engagement and experience to people. So we are thrilled to be in partnership with the long standing Trees for Life project, who are now part the Wild Aligned programme.
Trees for Life have planted some 2 million trees and their vision is to restore the Great Caledonian Forest. They are not in their early stage. But what a project has been created! It has been achieved through a deeply experiental process. Over the years thousands of volunteers have spent weeks grafting on the land and in the tree nurseries. Taking their experience back home, to seed the kind of subtle change in culture that we want to be at the heart of Wild Aligned. We are thrilled to be working with them.
Trees for Life has just launched the Affic Highlands project, a bold new vision to connect remnant old growth Caledonian forest across Scotland from coast to coast. So there is plenty of scope to get involved! Also, they do generate a limited number of carbon certificates which can be made available under our Carbon Balanced programme. These are called PIU’s or Pending Issuance Certificates, and it is our intention to help Trees for Life make sure that these valuable certificates are used only by companies who are making robust progress on their Net Zero and Carbon Reduction journeys.
Khasi Hills Synjuc
Finally, let’s just touch on the new 10,000 trees for 10,000 people project with our Carbon Balancing client Springer Nature Group.* They are partners in planting indigenous trees through C Level’s Wild Aligned programme, one for each employee. These trees will act as future ‘mother’ trees seeding wider scale regeneration. Read Springer Nature press release here.
If you want to create a forest, plant trees at significant scale, and do it well, there is no better way than to align with communities who have been doing this for years under the exceptional Plan Vivo pro nature pro people system. Springer Nature wanted scale and assurance and so we are thrilled to have been able to orchestrate this special Wild Aligned tree planting project for them with our long standing planting partner in the Khasi Hills. I first heard of this project back in 2012, in a bar in Kathmandu, where I met Mark Poffenburger, a global expert on Community Forestry. In the mountains of Meghalaya, sanscrit for the ‘abode of clouds’, a new project was underway. We where filming in Nepal for the grass roots community forestry NGO Rupantaran, and Mark suggested a film about the Khasi project.
So all these years on its great to have the chance to offer Khasi tree planting through Wild Aligned. With the focus being on supporting culture, biodiversity and engagement rather than counting carbon, we have been working closely with the Synjuk of 10 indigenous communities. This is an inspirational reforestation and rewilding project that will be delivered through the Synjuk’s network of women’s groups.
If you are ready to deepen your engagement and go the extra mile or ‘double down’ then contact C Level.
*Springer Nature are a long standing client and one of the biggest academic / research publishers, with journals and magazines such as Nature, Nature Climate Change and Scientific American to their name. They approached us to create a forest of 10,000 trees to thank all 10,000 staff for helping reach the milestone of being the first to publish one million Open Access articles.