Today in Boquete Panama at the Tuesday meeting Carla Black provided some education about the genus of plants known as Heliconias.
According the Wikipedia “Heliconia, derived from the Greek word helikonios, is a genus of about 100 to 200 species of flowering plants native to the tropical Americas and the Pacific Ocean islands west to Indonesia. Many species of Heliconia are found in rainforests or tropical wet forests of these regions. Common names for the genus include lobster-claws, wild plantains or false bird-of-paradise. The last term refers to their close similarity to the bird-of-paradise flowers (Strelitzia). Collectively, these plants are also simply referred to as heliconias.”
Carla showed some specimens ranging from small to one cut into sections so she could transport it’s thirty foot stalk. She discussed her garden, one I have not seen for several years and her up coming plant sale June 30- July 1. More on that at her website http://www.heliconiagarden.com/ .
In all of the discussion that happened one part stuck in my head, Carlas trip into the Nogbe Comarca with the Panama Audubon Society. The bird watchers went to see the birds, Carla and her husband Angel went to find Heliconias in the wild. In addition to discovering many heliconias they did not know they observed the destruction of the forests in the comarca. People clearing land for pasture even when they had no animals to put onto the pasture. The destruction of what is a unique environment, in this case only for the hope of future gain, not even a reality.
If I was Christian I would be preaching that we are only Stewards of this planet. Stewardship in a Christian context refers to the responsibility that Christians have in maintaining and using wisely the gifts that God has bestowed. God wishes human beings to be his collaborators in the work of creation, redemption and sanctification. Increasingly this has referred to environmental protectionism. This also includes traditional Christian Ministries that share the resources of treasure, time and talent.  wikipedia
If I had a pulpit I would be preaching Panthesim. Pantheism is the view that the Universe (or Nature) and God (or divinity) are identical. Wikipedia. Actually since the Internet made me a minister, perhaps I need to find a pulpit. Unfortunately not being a citizen here my rights to point out the obvious are limited to whispering on this blog.
Many of us came to Panama because of it’s extraordinary beauty. When I arrived in Boquete I said I had no idea there were so many shades of green, all those trees along the path from Panama City. Costa Rica has recognized their treasure and protects huge areas from development preserving them for the future and becoming a tourist mecca. Panama, it’s government and too often it’s people, see what is created by god or nature, as a only something to be used, consumed or destroyed for a profit; this is short term thinking.
Please do not read this a tree hugger manifesto, read it as a plea for balance. There needs to be a balance, nothing will prevent people from chopping trees for lumber, but they could plant more for the future. Nothing will prevent urbanizations and new hotels, but they can be built in a balanced environment. Many tourists and residents would like to see heliconias from their windows and monkeys in the trees, many of us flee from cities to escape concrete and cars. Destroying irreplaceable rain forest for pasture is poor land management. Developers, be they indigenous trying to raise cattle or builders of hotels need a perspective that is longer term. Think of our children and generations to come.
We lose species daily and one day our grandchildren or their children will see nothing but trees in museums and wonder what it was like before the paved over Paradise. (thank you again Joanie Mitchell and Ron Cobb).