Thursday, January 24th, 2013
Thanks to generous contributions from our global forest fans, TREE Foundation has leveraged our conservation programs in Ethiopia from 2 protected forests to nearly 25 forests where stone walls defining the perimeters are funded and under construction. The church leaders have expressed their appreciation, and also their wishes for a continued, long-term partnership of religion and science.
Below is a Letter of Appreciation in PDF format from Aba Endrias, Archbishop of South Gondar Diocese.
Letter of Appreciation (in Ahmaric)
Letter of Appreciation (translated to English)
Download (PDF, 450KB)
Thursday, October 25th, 2012
For her 9th birthday, Grace threw a fundraiser at a local retro-themed arcade for friends and classmates. In lieu of presents, she collected donations to raise money for the TREE Foundation to support protecting church forests in Ethiopia in honor of her sister, who was born in Ethiopia. The guests had a ball playing retro arcade games like Pac-Man and Frogger and were happy to donate to a great cause.
Thanks go out to Grace for such a wonderful idea and to everyone that donated to the TREE Foundation for Ethiopia Church Forest conservation! Happy Birthday Grace!
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
The NATURE RESEARCH CENTER in Raleigh, North Carolina, has the capability to connect to all 1.5 million K-12 students in the state, as well as to students around the world. For its Opening, the NRC conducted 2 global town halls, courtesy of Time Warner Cable. During these town halls, CanopyMeg Lowman hosted conversations with scientists around the world — India, UK, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Philippines, Costa Rica, North Carolina, and Amazon. Here are a few letters written by students in rural India, who experienced the thrill of connecting to millions of global students who were watching the broadcast! These students are studying elephants in their schools, as part of a conservation program for their region called the Western Ghats.
Below Bhaskar writes about the incredible opportunity extended to the students both from the US and from India in connecting to the Global Town Hall Program:
We had chosen the subject of Trees and Elephants and how important it is to conserve the woodland forests for the conservation of elephants and the supporting environment. We engaged in direct conversation with the Mahout community to build a dialogue of understanding how elephants can play a role culturally and through natural history.
In the first phase, 17 students from the US as part of the ClicaAbroad workshop were taken to two elephant camps in Karnataka State and they spent time documenting the fascinating life of the Mahouts surrounding the National park. Due to the conflict with school holidays, they couldn’t be present for the opening of the global town hall event.
Here is a writeup on the workshop in the media:
Later I took a group of 35 school children from Sri Vani School in Bangalore to the surroundings of Nagarhole Tiger Reserve to a local school COPS in Gonikoppa to interact with them and also experience the forest, elephants and surrounding biodiversity. I am enclosing some of the write ups from the students on their experiences and the images.
Write-ups and Letters (Adobe PDFs):
Sunday, April 15th, 2012
Kelly, a student at Hidden Valley Elementary School writes in with some questions for her Amazon Rainforest report. Below are the questions and answers:
Dr. Margret D. Lowman, sometimes called CanopyMeg, is a Rainforest Canopy Expert and Director of Environmental Initiatives at New College in Florida. She has been venturing through rainforest’s canopies for over 25 years. Over the course of these years she has been becoming an expert on the use of different canopy access techniques. Lowman has also written over 95 peer-reviewed publications, and three published books. She is now known as a world-renowned canopy expert. Today, Lowman focuses on education in science and the conservation of the rainforests. She now frequently talks to kids and adults about her experiences in the rainforests. The groups she speaks to includes elementary kids all the way through corporate executives. I contacted Dr. Lowman and she was ever so helpful to answer some questions for me.
Q: What inspired you to start studying the Amazon Rainforest?
A: It is the biggest and most important rainforest in the world.
Q: When was your first trip to a rainforest?
A: In Australia – See my book, Life in the Treetops, for details!
Q: How did you feel when you saw the Amazon for your first time?
A: I was in awe – [I] Did an over flight which was awesome. And [I] used a quarter-mile long Canopy walkway which is also awesome.
Q: Personally, what is your favorite animal in the rainforest and why?
A: My favorite animal is the sloth…. Slow and steady wins the race. It lives in the Canopy and eats the Canopy (leaves only) and has a whole set of biodiversity living in its fur.
Q: What is the climate like there?
A: Perfect all year round — Humid, warm but cool in the Understory.
Q: What is the main cause for forest fires in the Amazon Rainforest?
A: A combination of lightning (but the deforestation by humans has led to fragmentation which makes for drier forests and thus the lightning does more damage) and also some agriculture. (But historically these local burns had no influence, but now that there is more fragmentation these also have more disturbing influence.)
Q: What is your favorite thing to study in the Amazon?
A: What plant is eaten by what insect.
Q: What foods are common amongst the rainforest?
A: Everything – All of nature is useful, when used sustainably. I love the palm grubs (served in garlic), the hearts of the palm (only when grown sustainably) and others.
Q: What is a rare plant that lives there? Can you describe its characteristics?
A: Most Rainforest trees are getting rarer — One of my favorites is the Ceiba Pentandra (Great Kapok Tree) which is commonly logged so there are not many left. It is huge and majestic, and the Harpy Eagle nests in it!
Q: What is the most common export from the Amazon Rainforest?
A: Timber, soy products and beef.
Q: What is the most common import to the Amazon?
A: Ecotourism. (If and only if you and your fellow students and families visit the Amazon for vacation instead of Disney World!)
Friday, January 27th, 2012
Gordon, age 13, writes in with questions about rainforest cutting for an I-search report at school. Below are Gordon’s questions and Meg’s answers.
1. What kind of medicines were found in the rainforest?
Over half of our medicines had their origin in tropical plants, mostly from rain forests. There are so many including Cats Claw (for rheumatism and arthritis). Another plant actually has a gummy substance that can be used as a bandaid for a cut, when smushed on your skin.
2. What are some ways that we could contribute to stop the cutting?
We can help conserve rain forests by:
1. buying shade grown coffee (coffee grown in the sun usually has caused complete deforestation, but when grown in the shade of the existing forests, it not only saves the forest but it also tastes better). Always ask your store for shade grown coffee.
2. buying timber that is not grown in the tropics — over 20% of US timber is illegally imported and then bought by americans — we need to do our homework and stop buying tropical timber that is not certified.
3. Educate others — give rain forest books as gifts (there are 3 on my website that give lots of information about the importance of rain forests)
4. support eco-tourism — head to the Amazon instead of London if you are taking an international trip!
5. buy products that advance tropical cultures — there are crafts in some shops from natural products which are sustainably produced.
3. What are some species in the rainforest that are now endangered because of cutting?
Many are endangered, but unfortunately the names are often different from different regions of the rain forest. In Africa, Prunus africana (a cherry-type species) is endangered; in most tropical countries, mahoghany is endangered (but it has a different scientific name in certain places); the kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) is endangered in Peru; and red cedar (Toona australis) is endangered in Australia.
4. Who is responsible for the massive amounts of rainforest being cut down?
The major responsibility lies with the buyers of timber — America, Europe and China. A secondary problem is agriculture — buying soy products can be harmful to the rain forest if the soy was grown in Brazil, for example.
5. How much of the rainforest (estimate) will be left for our generation?
At the current rates, less than half will be left. The difficult part of the estimates are knowing how the fragments of forest will survive — in other words, with smaller amounts left, they may be more vulnerable to other causes of mortality such as drought or fire. Fingers crossed….
Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
6th Grader Hakim writes:
I’ve been reading a book about you that is amazing and your experience in the forest. I have a question about it and it is why does climbing trees and studying plants and animals amaze you? I have this question because climbing trees and studying plants and animals does not amaze me so I would to know why it amaze someone that is a scientist.that is why I have this question.
It amazes me that over HALF of the species on planet Earth live in the tops of trees — so if we do not climb up there, we never get to see or study all of our closest neighbors. Many of these species give us essential medicines and food supplies — so I think it is totally COOL to climb trees and make these discoveries. it is kind of like going into a cave and finding a pile of gold — but yet it is right over our heads all the time!
6th Grader Najah writes:
I am in sixth grade. I love science. Do you? My favorite subjects in science are chemistry,rocket science and botanist. I really do not know why I like science. i always have.Have you always like science? I read your story in a imagine it book. I am so interested in your story that i wanted to contact you.I think it is interesting how you study plants and animals.I bet you probably have a lot of patience to live in a tree top. I know I probably couldnt last one day in a jungle because I am pretty sure there are alot of big tropical bugs.If you want to write back please do.
Thank you for writing! I do love science, because SCIENCE is all about making discoveries that keep us healthy and make the planet healthy. I am passionate about science! My research was in Botany, as you know — studying the treetops! I hope you can join me someday. Please check out my website for more information
And keep up the great work in SCIENCE!
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
Tefere Gebre, born in Debre Tabor, thanks Dr. Lowman for her blog posts about Ethiopia. It gives him much hope for Ethiopia’s future well-being.
Tefere Gebre writes:
I was born in Debre Tabor. I now live in San Diego, CA. I left DT when I was 14 years old. Reading your blog post was one of the most hopeful things that I have read about Ethiopia.
I am going to try to sponsor one church in the DT area for fencing. I will follow up soon. This email is just to say thank you. I see and read about fast development in Ethiopia, but that of buildings and industry in Addis. This is the first post that I read dealing with the preservation of Ethiopia’s culture and future existence.
Monday, February 7th, 2011
Author, Mary Lowd, fondly recognizes CanopyMeg’s book, “Life in the Treetops,” as an inspiration for her science-fiction story. Ms. Lowd had been researching information about trees and forests when she discovered CanopyMeg’s amazing story about life as a woman scientist in Australia in “the Nineteen Seventies.” The story Ms. Lowd ended up writing is called, “Life with the Tumblers,” and is about a woman anthropologist who lives on an alien planet and studies the indigenous alien lifeforms. Although the stories differ, Ms. Lowd contributes her ideas to the valuable knowledge gained in CanopyMeg’s book.
If you would like to read, “Life with the Tumblers,” it’s available at
the following link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/23665
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Heather writes in to say what advice she learned from the trees after hearing Dr. Lowman’s award speech at World of Difference award night:
All I know was learned by observing trees:
1.stand tall and proud
2. Sink your roots into the earth
3. Be content with natural beauty
4. Go out on a limb!
5. Drink lots of water
6. Remember your roots
7. Enjoy the view
8. Celebrate diversity and nurture it in your canopy
Monday, April 19th, 2010
Magda from the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Sweden writes:
I found out about you and your adventures while doing research for my master thesis project which can be described as an alternative world guide book but in the form of a game.
The project/game encourage travellers to explore other things than usually described in a guidebook. The whole game will be in english and is not site-specific but can be used anywhere in the world.
I will also make a small book which deals with exploring the concept of traveling from different perspectives – historically, philosophically, personally, politically etc.
I am contacting you to ask if you would be interested in answering four questions to include in this small book? Would be extremely interesting to have your view upon this!
If you have time, here are the questions:
Below are the questions with Dr. Lowman’s answers:
1. Is there some particular journey that you still dream about doing? (It could be a possible or impossible journey).
I dream about going from the headwaters to the mouth of the Amazon, before it has been fragmented and altered by oil company leases.
2. Tell me about your first travel experience!
My first travel experience was going to the state science fair in 5th grade (I ended as the only girl in a large auditorium of boys exhibiting or experimenting) — I won second prize for my wildflower collections and research — but my dad forgot to put gas in the car and we ended up coasting down the hill into Syracuse New York at 6 AM in the morning –a dubious start to my career in science!
3. Which travel experience has affected you the most?
I believe seeing the Amazon with my children — although I am passionate about rain forest conservation, I am also a devoted mom and so sharing this amazing world of biodiversity with two enthusiastic young boys was truly a special moment for me.
4. I you could bring a person of your choice to any destination – which destination would you choose and who would you take with you?
I would love to take Bill and Melinda Gates to the Amazon — so they would realize that health (of people) relies on health of the planet, and their very generous foundation might share some of its generosity to environmental conservation issues
5. Describe a special meeting that you have had during a journey!
My most special meeting was with the 15 chiefs of a remote village in Western Samoa, when they chanted and drank kava for 7 hours while they decided if we should build them a canopy walkway to help them keep from logging their forest (see the second chapter in my book, Its a Jungle Up There, which provides all the fun details of that day!!)
6. Where in the world have you found the most beautiful tree? Describe it!
My favorite tree is the FIG tree (Ficus watkinsiana in Australia, but there are other Ficus species around the world). i wrote about figs in the last chapter of my first book, Life in the Treetops. Any tree that starts its life from the top, and sends its roots down to the ground, has to be VERY COOL and also very smart in the sense that it is guaranteed to have light which is a limited commodity if you start growing from the forest floor upward.
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