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ARC Home > Projects > Religious forests :
The Story of a Box

The Story of a Box

In 1986, WWF International, assisted by Martin Palmer who is now ARC’s Secretary General, invited five major faiths to come to Assisi to dedicate themselves to protection of the natural world according to their own teachings and traditions. The five were Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

The event was a great success: it culminated in a ceremony inside the magnificent 13th century basilica of St. Francis and it led: to the commitments by the faiths to work on the environment; to WWF’s commitment to work with the faiths, and later to the foundation of ARC as an independent charity.

In 1999, WWF and ARC decided to hold the next major meeting of the faiths - the largest since the Assisi meeting. By then there were nine faiths involved, with two others preparing to join. It was decided to hold the event in Bhaktapur, Nepal. It was decided to keep a strong link with the event in Assisi where everything had started.

Two years before, Assisi had been hit by a major earthquake and part of the ceiling of the basilica had fallen down, taking with it some treasured fresco paintings. As a sign of their commitment to Bhaktapur, and to the faiths building a future for the planet, the Franciscans of Assisi gave ARC a stone block from the basilica, which Brother Max Mitzi – who had helped design and organise the Assisi event – was to bring to Nepal.

A box was commissioned to hold the stone, and it was decided to make it from wood from the six continents – Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia – from trees grown in forests managed according to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines. A Swiss carpenter worked free of charge, and six companies around the world donated the wood.

Link here to find out what happened to the box.

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Related information
International Religious Forestry Standard
The inaugural Faiths and Forests meeting in Visby, Sweden culminated in August 2007 in a unanimous agreement to go forward and create a Religious Forestry Standard. It will include religious, ecological, social and economic criteria for forest management.
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