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Meet the Indian couple saving Wales’ ancient woodlands

29 Mar 2022 4 minute read
Monisha and Vikram Krishna. Sacred Groves

Lowri Llewelyn

Monisha and Vikram Krishna are on a mission to save Wales’ ancient woodland.

Their journey began in southwestern India, where a visit to the Sacred Forest of Mawphlang prompted an epiphany that would change the way they interacted with the world forever.

Following their barefoot guide into the forest, the couple were awed by the respect with which he treated this woodland. “There were very clear guidelines – you could not take anything into the forest and you could not take anything out of the forest. It was a place of worship.”

The couple, who’d worked in large corporations throughout their adult lives, had already begun some tentative soul searching about the impact their jet-setting lifestyles were having on the planet.

“We came across a very horrible statistic that every six seconds, a soccer field equivalent to a forest gets destroyed. That really shook us out of our bootstraps.”

Disconnected from nature

Following their visit to the Sacred Forests of Mawphlang, “The realization for us was that over the years we’ve become very disconnected from nature and lost the reverence we should have, which is why the climate crisis is where it is.”

Was this really the planet they wanted to leave behind for their children?

“Then we said: what we want to do is preserve existing forests and natural habitats, because every natural habitat has a function to perform – whether it’s a coastland, a marshland, a wetland, mangroves… Each of these natural systems has a role to play in the way biodiversity is supported and protected.”

According to the IUCN, approximately 40,000 species worldwide are at risk of extinction in the near future, while a million species are at risk over time.

Sacred Groves was officially registered in England and Wales in 2019. The couple, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, chose Wales as the first country to defend from deforestation. “We thought it was only fitting that our first ever forests are in the country that we started out of.”

First the couple bought Gigrin Prysg Forest in Powys, followed by Coed Rhyal Forest overlooking Carmarthen Bay, with the intention of preserving and rewilding so that local communities could feel secure in the preservation of these ancient forests for many years to come.

‘Our woodlands are dedicated to the people of Wales.’

The couple believes that though governments, institutions and NGOs all play a part in the preservation of our planet, every individual contribution, however small, can have a positive impact – which is where the people of Wales come in.

It’s possible to support the couple’s vision by becoming a “Guardian”. By purchasing a cluster from one’s chosen woodland – ‘for the cost of a bouquet of red roses’ – the guardian ensures the preservation of that cluster for the next 10 years.

The couple describes Sacred Groves as ‘almost like a social network for the environmentally conscious…what we have done is create a digital twin of the forest.’ By logging in to a guardianship account it’s possible to view the woodland in grid form, monitoring their chosen cluster’s details which include number of protected trees, pollution removal and carbon sequestered.

Vikram and Monisha emphasise that each woodland’s function is effectively set in stone for eternity. Long after they’re no longer with us, whoever is running the company – even if the company wishes to sell the land – whoever purchases it must by law commit to its conservation and protection. Simply put: ‘These forests are forever.’

Although both purchases in Wales have proved a huge success, the pair acknowledge there is still much work to be done.

“We believe conservation is a journey; it’s not just a one-off action, but a series of many actions.

“Our planet is our habitat and we want to make sure that in every part of the world there are actions such as these that allow a large group of individuals to get involved so that they can make a difference.”

As a result, in December 2021 the couple purchased an Acadian Forest in Nova Scotia, Canada. ‘Our canvas is very broad,’ they explain. ‘We’re looking to expand to India and a few more countries.’

And their work on this side of the pond is far from done. ‘The more guardians support Sacred Groves, the more natural habitats we will protect in Wales.’

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