Mountains are one of the best places to get in touch with creation, with the spiritual dimensions of nature and the mystery of God’s presence in our world. Mountains are domains where the natural world has been less damaged than in other parts of the planet—or so it seems. A closer look often reveals that the mountains too have been abused by humanity. An eco-journey into the mountains may also be a means of discerning more about the plight of our planet.
Some mountains have been stripped of their forests. Some suffer from destructive introduced species. Some are invaded by Land Rovers or mining companies. And some have been polluted with poisons. I recall a conversation in India in which I was informed that the death of most tigers in the mountains was not at the hands of hunters, but from the poisons sprayed on hillside crops that flowed into the mountain streams.
In various locations around the world, efforts are being made to restore mountain regions to their pristine state. One example is the effort to restore portions of the Cairngorm plateau of Scotland. The vision of the National Trust is to remove all signs of past human activity and return the area to ‘pristine’ wilderness. (For details contact firstname.lastname@example.org). Similar efforts to preserve the wild regions of our mountains are happening across the planet. And Earth teams from congregations are invited to consider supporting such efforts.
We also need to face the reality, that mountains have been invaded and that we need to work towards sustaining the mountain environment. Restoration to an Eden state may not be possible.
In many lands, mountains become the refuge of the Indigenous or the poor. In parts of India, for example, Tribal peoples have been displaced by coffee plantations or similar economic developments. As a result they are forced to move higher up the mountain. Mountains are often a refuge, not only for wild creatures, but displaced humans.
Our task is to preserve our mountains, especially those domains which are still wild and relatively undisturbed. As Earth teams we can explore ways of preventing such domains from being invaded by economic ventures or destructive tourism.
Sensitive eco-journeys into the Flinders Ranges, for example, are conducted by David Amery in South Australia. Contact email@example.com. The Uniting Church Earth Team in Victoria has similar activities. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.christian-ecology.org.uk and www.earthministry.org.