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Eco Article in the Malaysian Sun cites ARC's work as good initiative

July 23 2008:

The Aamiq Wetlands in Lebanon, an A Rocha restoration project. Photo: Victoria Finlay.

An article in Malaysia's The Star newspaper yesterday about the growing interest in the environment from both faith communities in particular and the Malaysian population in general, singles out ARC's work as a good initiative working with a range of religions on key environmental issues.

The article, titled “Be agents of change” by Star reporter Soo Ewe Jin, describes the work of Christian conservation organization, A Rocha.

It quotes its upcoming chairman, botanist and ecologist Sir Ghillean Prance as saying that: 'We will only achieve the major changes needed in our lifestyle if it is backed up by religions.”

Former director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, and current president of Christians in Science (a British network of scientists and teachers), Sir Ghillean was in Malaysia carrying out fieldwork in Johor, doing research at the FRIM herbarium and contributing accounts of two plant families to the Flora of Peninsular Malaysia.

This October Sir Ghillean who was knighted in 1995 for his contribution to the environment, will be appointed chair of A Rocha International, the Christian conservation organisation founded in 1983.

“An important part of A Rocha's work and indeed, that of many environmental organisations, is to help people realise the serious nature of the environmental crisis and that it is God's creation,” Sir Ghillean is quoted as saying.

“The crisis is hitting hard now as food and fuel prices rise and it will get worse unless we take stronger action soon. An organisation like A Rocha can help because of its firm ethical base based on the teachings of the Bible. I feel that the growth of A Rocha is a sign of hope in a deteriorating world. A Rocha brings Christian hope to the issues in a most positive way.”

“The people who have a moral ethical and spiritual dimension to their lives are more likely to approach the environmental problem in a positive way. We will only achieve the major changes needed in our lifestyle if it is backed up by religions:” leading botanist and ecologist Sir Ghillean Prance.
“The people who have a moral ethical and spiritual dimension to their lives are more likely to approach the environmental problem in a positive way. We will only achieve the major changes needed in our lifestyle if it is backed up by religions,” he was quoted as saying.

“In all my travels and scientific expeditions, I see God's handiwork everywhere.”

The article included an interview with A Rocha's founder Peter Harris, who explained how the charity began when - as keen ecologists and bird watchers - he and his wife Miranda started a field study centre in Portugal some 25 years ago. Since then the model - of research, education, advocacy, faith and multiculturalism - has been taken up all around the world in 18 countries and all sorts of communities, both rich and poor.

Sir Ghillean Prance, the upcoming chair of A Rocha. Photo from The Malaysian Star.
“We wanted to encourage people concerned about the environment to discuss not just what they do, but why they do it. Missing that discussion has led to many misunderstandings between people who then take different sides on questions that they could agree on. No one actually wants to wreck the planet!”

As the article concluded, there is a growing awareness of environmental and conservation issues in Malaysia these days.

“Malaysians have seen An Inconvenient Truth and are now also hit hard by the rising fuel prices. People are talking about living simply and saving for their future but not many are able to connect conservation issues, the preservation of habitats and wildlife, to the real issues that they face each day.”

Aamiq Wetlands, Lebanon. An A Rocha project. Photo: Victoria Finlay.
Harris agrees. “It is the connections that have gone missing. We simply don't see how our daily choices - what to eat, how to get around, how to design our human communities - impact the world around us directly.

“In many places, biodiversity is rapidly diminishing and people are impoverished because those in the developed world don't care how we 'get' what we believe we 'need'”.

He believes in getting people of all faiths involved as well, and cites the work of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation as “a good initiative”.

A Rocha has worked effectively to reduce the damaging impacts of development on Portugal's Alvor estuary; restore one of Lebanon's last remaining wetlands; work for the creation of a 28.32ha country park in a particularly polluted and unpromising area of London; see hundreds of schoolchildren in Kenya get funding for education through our ASSETS (the Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Ecotourism Scheme) programme,” said Harris.


Link here for the full article in the Malaysia Star.

For more about A Rocha, visit

Link here for more details about Christian ecology.

Link here for the Christian Faith Statement about the Environment.

Link here for the Christian environmental news.

Link here for the more Christianity and Ecology weblinks.

Link here to buy Peter Harris's book Under Bright Wings about how he and his wife Miranda started A Rocha in 1983(or here for a US purchase)

Link here for the website of Christians in Science.

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What does Christianity teach about ecology?
The basic environmental beliefs of Christianity.
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