Environmental Warriors: Buddhist Eco-monks and Tree Ordination
By Dipen BD
December 31, 2020
In recent years we have seen the continuous, unrelenting abuse of the world’s resources. Forests and trees, which are critical to ecosystems and planetary biodiversity, are under acute stress. According to the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha was born from Maya’s side under a tree. He achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, and delivered his first sermon and entered parinirvana under the shelter of trees. For religious and scientific reasons, the health of forest ecosystems is critical to the Buddhist idea of collective, planetary well-being.
Deforestation is a major threat in many majority Buddhist countries, including Thailand and Cambodia. Decades of illegal logging has had an adverse effect on local economies, food security, and biodiversity. However, a group of Buddhist monks and activists in Thailand and Cambodia are working together to protect threatened forests, integrating Buddhist principles with environmental awareness, providing consultation to government officials about environmental issues, and implementing sustainability projects. They are also involved in tree ordination, which over the past few years has gained media attention around the world for its innovative and inspiring message about the sanctity of the natural world.