Editorials | Environmental | June 2007
|The Cold Blooded Slaughter of a Vallartan Legend|
JOY! - PVNN
Once upon a time, many hundreds of years ago, a great Banyan tree was born near the shores of a magical bay that would eventually be known as Puerto Vallarta. For centuries this tree grew, nourishing the world around it, bringing life, giving oxygen and supporting the ecology for hundreds of meters in every direction.
|This is a view of Her center – Her branches extend over half a city block.|
Six, seven, eight hundred years passed and the world around it changed, growing more quickly than the eternal Banyan, which continued bringing healing and shade and comfort to anyone who sought it.
In the new millennium, She found Herself in the corner of a sweet little family owned resort called Molina de Agua, dominating its grounds, inspiring awe and wonder in everyone who saw Her. Massage huts grew up around Her, healers instinctively recognising the power this great tree exuded.
By this time She was so huge five people could enter the tree and stand in Her great heart looking up at the canopy six stories above their heads. She was far and away the largest tree in the Bay, arguably the most important tree energetically, ecologically and spiritually in the entire area.
My connection with this tree was profound. Her Guardian was a gentle being of immense wisdom and compassion. All great trees have Guardians; Nature Spirits rather like the ENTS in Lord of the Rings, that grow with their trees and can't usually survive without them. They lovingly care for the tree that is very much more than their home, together the tree and its Guardian look after the area around it, acting as home and a sanctuary for many creatures, as well as literally protecting the earth under and far beyond its roots.
To understand these real fairies of the world it helps to look away from images of Tinkerbell in a tutu, and realize the truth about nature spirits lies more in the kingdoms depicted in Tolkien's Middle Earth.
I was raised a short distance from where Rivendell was filmed in Lord of the Rings,and if, like me, you have ever had the privilege of being in an ancient natural forest, or any place largely unmolested by humankind, you will understand the sentience and power in the trees and rivers and other natural spaces there, and if you pay attention you will sense the Guardians.
That plants are sentient has been scientifically proven in many ways through many studies, anyone who has lovingly cared for a house plant knows how they respond to care. One famous university study wired up plants in a greenhouse then had someone go through and violently destroy several of the plants leaving the rest untouched. Then they sent in a variety of people including that person. The monitors registered no response to anyone else, but as soon as he entered the room, the measurements on all of the plants in the greenhouse went off the charts showing instant extreme distress.
There is no doubt that plants experience pain and fear. There is also no doubt that plants, especially trees, provide extraordinary levels of healing. For many years part of my Shamanic life has been devoted to teaching people how to receive healing, centering and grounding from trees.
You can actually talk, and more importantly listen to trees, if you have the time and the willingness to do so. The native American Indians call them the Standing Ones, because obviously they do not scurry about as we do, their patience is immense, their wisdom comes from decades, sometimes centuries of quietly observing everything around them.
To walk into the arbor labyrinth and sit in the space at the center of the Banyan and commune with Her Guardian was a privilege unlike any other. There was no safer more loving place, Her amazing root system wove around me keeping the whole world at bay. Nothing else existed outside of that ancient wise one.
I would go and lay my tiny troubles at her great feet and she would smile and gently ask "How will this matter a hundred years from now?"
I had tried to visit Her several times since arriving back in Puerto Vallarta, but Molina de Agua had been sold and She now lived behind high fences and gates and I couldn't get past the security people.
Having seen the slaughter of the magnificent trees at Lazaras Cardenas Parque to make way for a parking lot, I was worried about Her, but I was assured that She would be fine, the new owners had agreed to clear only scrub from around the beach front, all of the big trees would remain untouched.
I awoke on Friday November 10th, 2006, and rang Kurt who owns Epoca restaurant next to the Banyan. I thought I'd visit him, then try and see Her again, this time I wouldn't be thwarted, it had been a tough couple of months, I needed to see my friend the Guardian and sit in her majestic home.
I was completely unprepared when Kurt said "I have something I have to tell you, do you hear those chain saws? They are cutting down the Banyan."
I don't remember what happened after that, I only remember running, trying to climb over the wall, clawing at the tarps, kicking at the gate until it opened enough for me to see Her magnificent limbs chain sawed into helpless naked stumps, Her great roots torn from the soil She'd supported for centuries and thrown into a trash heap, Her mighty trunk hacked and bulldozed yet still standing.
I couldn't believe I'd been so deaf that I hadn't heard Her screaming.
I couldn't get in, I couldn't stop the destruction, it continues today, it will take many hours of bulldozing to tear Her from the earth She has stood so long nourishing and protecting.
It is illegal to cut this tree down. The people doing it do not have permission, someone has been paid a large amount of money to do this in secret, they put up tarps so no-one would realize what was happening until it was too late.
When we called the environmental police they hedged "We will come down on Monday and see if the tree is really being cut down, and check their paperwork then" they too are paid being off.
Sunday, November 12, 2006:
The slaughter of the Great Banyan Trees continues.
I found out they are taking both of the Ancient Ones! The other tree, a male, was almost as big as my friend. Instead of the woven inner sanctum and huge coverage of the female, He had vast limbs that traveled for hundreds of yards horizontally, supported by roots that grew down every 20 feet or so.
Their presence was so huge and essential to this part of the Bay that I can feel the trauma from my home eight blocks away, the earth itself vibrates with the ongoing violation. "They know not what they do" Kurt told me. They will learn; that part of the Bay can not long survive without these trees holding the soil together.
|This is part of one of his astonishing branches.|
Stupidity and greed will be the end of the condos as well as the trees, it won't take more than a couple of rainy seasons before the cracks start to appear. The developers won't care, they have their money, but God help anyone who lives on this desecrated site.
My friend is exasperated with me, she thinks I am being overly dramatic, "Worse things than this happen on the planet every day" she reminds me, "it's a couple of trees, you can't condemn the whole world for it." Why not? To me the illegal destruction of the Banyans is a perfect symbol of everything that is wrong with the world, including the fact that my friend can't understand why I am so upset.
Why is the Banyan's loss considered less appalling than the loss of a human being? For HUNDREDS of years they sustained life, including human life, in their area of the world. What do humans do on the planet compared to what they did?
• Trees produce the oxygen that we breathe. One mature tree can produce enough oxygen for a family of four for one year.
• Trees clean the air. An acre can remove about 13 tons of dusts, gases, and pollutants from the atmosphere every year.
• Trees provide homes for wildlife.
• Trees conserve energy. A home shaded by trees can reduce its air conditioning costs by almost 50%!
• Cities with few trees become heat islands. Trees lower surrounding air temperatures by as much as 15 degrees!
• Trees reduce noise pollution by acting as sound barriers. Each 100-foot width of trees can absorb about 6-8 decibels of sound intensity.
• Trees help with flood control. A moderate size tree's roots absorb 400 gallons of water per day.
• Trees absorb carbon dioxide (car emissions: air pollution) through the scientific process of carbon sequestration.
To be really clear on this: Trees make the air we breathe. They help hold the planet together. WITHOUT TREES, LIFE ON PLANET EARTH DIES. And you don't have a future, and neither do your children.
This photo was taken exactly a week after the bulldozers moved in. Almost everything has been removed but you can still see where Her great heart was in the center, and the free standing branch to the right on the other side of the path beyond the now flattened areas where major branches grew, and the branches to the far left.
|Sunday November 19, 2006: Nine days after the first chain saws began their wicked work on the Great Banyan only the base remains.|
Everything in grey was under her canopy, and there was more under the roof tiles in the photo. She arched over the pathways, and completely dominated the skyline. The other trees in the photo were all smaller than most of her many branches.
A newspaper report came out saying that termites had eaten out the center of the tree and it had to be cut down. Termites with a 10 million dollar pocket book.
This Link will take you to the great unveiling of the 'new Molina de Agua' so you can see what will be replacing the ancient Banyan trees.
It is now mid-June, world environment week, seven months since this atrocity, the monsoon season is almost upon us.
Construction continues at the doomed Molino de Agua site. Lazaras Cardenas Parking Lot continues to be torn up on a regular basis; cracks started appearing just weeks after it was opened, it will be interesting to see what happens when the rains come; any car parked under there will want to be well insured.
Destruction is now rampant throughout Vallarta, developers and their illegal projects have infested the Sacred Seirra Madres, already their buildings are sliding down the mountains, they are building on land set aside as sanctuary for a reason. It simply cannot sustain condos. They don't care, they only need the buildings to be up long enough for them to take the money and run.
|An ariel shot looking down on the stump of the Banyan.|
That irrevocable damage has already been done to the environment, profoundly impacting the long term health and survival of Puerto Vallarta means nothing to the people that are committing these crimes, or to those that enable them. That people will lose their lives and/or the homes they invested in good faith in means nothing. They do not see beyond their wallets.
If we are to save what remains of our precious resources we need to take a stand NOW. A couple of groups have formed to do just this, please support them.
A group of nationals and members of the Canadian & US community have been working over these past few months to try to make sure that the various construction sites are doing all that is necessary to insure the safety of the homes and lives around the mountainside. They are hoping to form an active group to work towards the goal of rezoning the mountain to keep it green. Contact Susan Wiseman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grupo Ecologico meets on the third Friday of every month at CECATI, 5-7 p.m. their focus is on conserving Puerto Vallarta email@example.com
JOY! Is an internationally acclaimed life transformation coach, famous for her unreasonable success in helping people move through their challenges with her unorthodox approach and emPOWERment tools. For more information, visit her website ExperienceJoy.com or call 044-322-129-1128.
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