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april 22 1997
the birth of the lamma forest

 

The Lamma Forest is born with the vision of creating a forest on the scenic northern hills of Lamma Island in what was (and is today) one of the island’s most beautiful spots. 15 minute walk from Yung Shue Wan and a forty-minute journey from Central, the scenic yet barren hills of Northern Lamma between Po Wah Yuen and Pak Kok are chosen as the site of THE LAMMA FOREST PROJECT. The proximity to Yung Shue Wan and  rich flora and fauna in the near-by valleys makes this an ideal area to be reforested. The vision is to unite all the valleys with forestland creating one large eco-system with Lamma Island’s largest fresh water stream and swamp land running through it.

“By creating a forest, hope is given. By planting a forest, life is enriched. By setting a living example, people can see and feel the greening of the Earth & thereby empowering proactive change within & without themselves.” Bobsy

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april 25 1997
first planting

 

First tree planting day in the Lamma Forest

The task was to plant 1, 000 trees for Lamma, 500 on the 25th and 500 on the 26th.

We had never planted this many trees in one go before and our experience was pretty limited.

The land was hard and the soil was brittle, luckily there had been a little rain a few days earlier and so we had a little help from Mother Nature. We mobilized the Lamma community in the days leading up to the tree plant and had generated a lot of enthusiasm amongst the volunteers.

The three key people from ABLE Charity who shouldered the bulk of the planning and organisation were Tobias Forster, Karen Sylvester & Bobsy.

The two day operation was a success and the foundations of the Forest were laid …

april 25 1997
lamma forest book

The Lamma Forest Book documents the very beginning of the Lamma Forest and its progress to 2003.

november 22 1996
ten yellow bins

 

The story of how Hong Kong gets its first designer recycling bins and two inspirational women.

Six foot two bright yellow paper recycling bins make their appearance at the Hong Kong Outlying Islands ferry piers in November 1997. The words “Time to recycle” boldly printed around a red, blue and green recycling logo make a strong presence to inspire change and raise awareness.

After many months of hard work, envisioning, design challenges, limited budgets, red tape negotiations, corporate dealings, Government approvals and sponsorship hassles… Our vision and dream to give Hong Kong its first attractive, functional and educational bins is realised.

Thanks in part to the forward thinking Body Shop and their kind sponsorship and trust, a willing EPD & FEHD, ABLE Charity goes ahead to manufacture and put up 10 big yellow bins, as they become fondly known, on the streets of Hong Kong.

It was a glorious sunny and fresh November’s day back in 1997 as we all gathered in front of pier No.4 for the official ceremony of launching Hong Kong’s first conscious paper recycling bins.

We were so excited, we all put on our crisp white ABLE Charity long sleeved shirts to meet up with: friends, supporters, Government officials from the EPD and the FEHD. The Body Shop representatives of Hong Kong and Macau, Marcus and Margarette Tancock came along with the legendary founder of Body Shop International and global activist the late Anita Roddick who had especially flown in were also present. I, myself was representing ABLE together with co-founder Tobias Forster, someone who had tirelessly worked on this project.

I mention these two women with pride as they both became friends of mine. I had so much respect and awe for both women, powerful, integral and conscious activists fighting big battles on behalf of women and our Mother Earth. The Body Shop was one of my first true inspirations as I stepped into the world of conscious entrepreneurship back in the late 1980’s. I remember walking into their Oxford Street shop in London and being blown away by the concept of effortlessly marrying business with environmental and social awareness. The feel of their packaging, conscious messages about not testing on animals, the environment, bigger picture living  all put across in a creative, graphical and appealing way inspired me. This had a massive impact on my young mind and helped guide me into finding my own voice and message moving forwards.To eventually become her friend was a blessing. Sadly and tragically she left us far too soon but not without leaving our planet a much richer and safer place.

Margarette Tancock was my first inspiration here in Hong Kong. She introduced me to the world of meditation and showed me that Hong Kong had plenty of spirituality to offer anyone seeking. As the founder of the Body Shop Hong Kong she also showed me how to marry both business and activism harmoniously. She always had a kind word and encouragement to give me any time I needed it.

She too tragically left us far too soon but also not without leaving Hong Kong and our world a much better place in her wake.

The ceremony was successful and the 10 big yellow bins graced our outlying ferry piers for another 5 years. During their short lifecycle they graced and greeted daily commuters as they stepped on and off their ferries with heaps of daily newspapers and other packaging they were bringing from their homes and offices to very openly and clearly recycle. Looking back they were perhaps not the best designed bins, but they worked and above all raised our city’s awareness for the time to recycle.

Hong Kong has come a long way since those early days and now paper recycling is part and parcel of our daily lives but back then it was revolutionary.

I for one miss seeing those big happy yellow bins.

april 25 1998
'planting a forest'

 

Following on from the success of the first tree planting in the Forest the previous year we were empowered, excited ready to go with another one. April has traditionally been the tree planting window in Hong Kong for planting trees and so we set about planting another 1000 trees over a sunny and hot weekend. We pretty much repeated the process we had learnt form the first event and before we knew it another 1000 babes had been sunk in to the land. A picture was slowly starting to emerge of the potential of what can be one day.

Luck was on our side as out of nowhere the government decides to plant thousands of trees on the same land. Low and behold suddenly thousands of trees join our two thousand pioneer species and as if by magic there is now a forest, all be it of baby trees that were barely visible from a distance. This single act made a world of a difference. It was a much needed boost to our efforts and suddenly gave us the momentum to confidently plough ahead and boldly say that we are “planting a forest”