In 2120, 20% of the land area in the Netherlands will consist of forest. This manifesto is a guide to a lively forest landscape and introduces a new basic attitude for this. For the near and distant future.
Many civilizations have been lost due to the massive clearing of forests. To create an action perspective on living in reciprocity with the forest and its ecosystem, a series of workshops took place in the Assembly of Trees installation during Festival Oerol 2022, Terschelling (NL). These workshops and the interaction with the public have been the inspiration for this manifesto.
The manifesto is partly derived from the rights-of-nature in the Constitution of Ecuador, including the precautionary principle3 and global indigenous wisdom.
This has led to this biocentric manifesto: The principles of the Forest composed by Dorine van Norren
In association with
- Chihiro Geuzebroek
- Koen Arts
- Elmo Vermijs
- Jessica den Outer
- Raki Ap
- Remi Hougee
For the Forest: Reciprocity of relationships, (material) use, and of rights; listening to each other with an open heart, as well as historical awareness of where we come from.
Let’s strive together for:
- Recognizing the intrinsic value of the Forest;
- Right to existence;
- Respect for the web of life and diversity;
- Repair and compensation in case of damage;
- Recognition of connectedness and mutual nourishment;
- Equality, dignity of all life and the precautionary principle.
Embrace the fundamental principles and petition with the Forest.
The Forest speaks
We the Forest
Holland, Holtland, Houtland, (Woodland), I feel dethroned. You named the land after our trees. But where are they? Economic gain. Only Ireland and Malta are poorer than me. I, the Forest, live in poverty, the poorest in the world. Will you restore us?
We are made of one essence, cut from the same cloth. Discovering the tree in ourselves, the human being in the tree. Where has our unity gone? Do you remember us?
Your parents, grandparents, children, family, ancestors, friends, what have you experienced with us the Forest? How did you grow with us? Our rings are your rings. Do you surround yourself with us?
Life is our birthright. Growth, flowering and dying characterize our existence, our natural cycle. I am in contact with all living beings around us. Together we form an indivisible ecosystem. The earth nourishes us, the air caresses us, the sun gives us strength, the water is our lifeblood. In return we share our shadow, scents, fruits and sometimes even tree parts of our existence. Do you smell us?
Respect the Web of Life, it is our brain. We, the Web, are also underground, we are subterranean and unfathomable. We Beings and non-Beings survive through each other. Together we are smart, we keep the ancestors alive and share our memories with you. We the Forest are your collective memory of all that was, is and will be. Our memory is vast. Your prehistoric internet. Do you see us?
Our existence is rich in variety. The animals are allowed to rest in our shade. We sisters and brothers are all different. The pine forest has orchids, the deciduous forest woodpeckers, mixed forests birds of prey. Up to the smallest creatures that hide and nest in us, fly and crawl around us. Do you protect us?
When we are damaged, we ask for our Honor to be restored. Compensation for the suffering that has been done to us, so that we can grow and prosper again and stay in balance. In our world there is no guilt, only action and reaction, cause and effect. We love all beings equally. Do you understand us?
All human beings may wallow in our presence and radiance to strengthen their own powers and to connect even more with all living things. We offer you relaxation, reflection, health. We help you come to yourself. We feel a deep connection with you. We, the web of life, communicate with humanity every day. Do you hear us?
We feed you with everything that lives here. Your human presence and care enhances our presence, diversity and biodiversity. Do you taste us?
We, the Forest, belong to ourselves, no one can own or claim us. Not only my trees, but also my trunks, juices, leaves and roots have rights. Our right to exist, our integrity, (equality) dignity and peaceful existence. Be friends with us!
We never have enough of you. Will you come to rest and play?
Harvest from us, but respect the other functions we perform. Also create and manage different types of forests: Wood forests and food forests to harvest, forests to be in, or a forest in which you can do everything at once. We greatly appreciate your attention, care and precaution, as well as your gratitude and inventiveness in coming up with solutions. Do you feel us?
What language should I speak as Forest so that you understand us? A language of science is too cold for us. A language of emotion is too sultry for us. A language of money is too cheap for us. A language of silence… Yes, a language of silence that fits our message very nicely. That message may seem a little disappointing to you humans at first, but it gradually gains momentum. Do you hear us?
We speak at the time when you do not listen, when you do not measure and do not saw, when you do not know and do not grieve, when you do not run and do not ask. When you simply do in the Forest. When you lose your mind. Our bodies – bone, sap, wood. Mind zero, heart open. Let us be.
Once you were all Indigenous Peoples. For you the Forest was and is your Home, your Pharmacy, your Supermarket, your Museum and your School. You took no more than is necessary, for future generations, to enjoy as much as you do. You did not pollute that House and you certainly did not destroy it. That is ancient Wisdom. Do you honor us?
Your monocultures are suffocating our brains. Your plantations depress our existence. You isolate us into non-existence. We Forests are like gossiping people. We are talking about the polluted water, how the new arrivals have changed and destroyed the landscape. How we clean our brains again. Will you join the conversation?
About the author:
The forest has been composed by Dorine van Norren, diplomat, artist and writer. Associate researcher Leiden Law School on Ubuntu/Buen Vivir/Happiness. UN Harmony with Nature expert.
In association with
- Chihiro Geuzebroek, multidisciplinary artist, writer, organizer, trainer in decolonial climate justice perspectives and practices.
- Koen Arts, assistant professor (Wageningen University & Research), nature explorer and writer (including Wild Year, Polar bears with optimism, Rewilding in the Netherlands). He examines the relationship between man and nature in word and deed.
- Elmo Vermijs, visual artist who works at the intersection of landscape, art and ecology. He is the initiator of the research project StagingWood.
- Jessica den Outer, lawyer, writer and speaker on Rights for Nature. She is part of the United Nations Harmony with Nature Network as an Earth-centered Law Expert.
- Raki Ap, spokesperson for the Free West Papua Campaign. He fights for an independent West Papua and its indigenous ways of life.
- Remi Hougee, forester for Staatsbosbeheer on Terschelling. Staatsbosbeheer manages 9500 hectares of nature on Terschelling (approx. 80% of the island), of which approx. 750 hectares are forest.