Daoist Ecological Protection Network

The Daoist Ecological Protection Network, founded as part of the Qinling Declaration of 2006, is an association of over a hundred Daoist temples across China dedicated to promoting environmental awareness. This article highlights the sustainability initiatives of two temples – Louguantai, where Laozi was said to have penned the Daodejing, and Maoshan, where the Highest Clarity school was founded. Before the founding of the network, the Louguantai temple faced the issue of increasing visitor traffic, which created paths encroaching on the surrounding forest habitat home to the pandas. As a clever solution, Louguantai constructed both a temple and an ecology education center on one of the paths, which on the one hand encouraged tourists to use one path, and on the other hand raised awareness about preserving China’s forests and biodiversity. In last week’s responses, Rachel noted that the Maoshan monastery, when constructing new buildings, chose to build around the existing trees and boulders rather than clear them away, to “let the roads, houses, and walls give way to the trees.” Maoshan also instituted a policy where each person is only allowed three incense sticks in order to reduce pollution and call for moderation. Other Daoist temples in the network have installed solar-powered lighting, organized tree planting projects, and posted signs reminding visitors of nature’s significance. Through these initiatives, Daoist practitioners implement wuwei – leading by example instead of by forcefulness, making subtle adjustments instead of drastic changes.