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November 2021 Newsletter

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

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4 Nov 2021 TPZN
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Goodness we are already in November – I hope you are well. Welcome back to The Project Zen newsletter.

This wee opening to each newsletter is for us to share The Project Zen's Journey as we slowly build a community of people like you and me, as well as a successful business. We are also interested in having a bit of fun on the way. I am Sarina, the founder of The Project Zen.

During the last month I have been preparing materials for a team building session that I want to pilot. This will probably happen in January now, unless I can sort it out for December.

However, December is notoriously a busy month for people and diaries may already be full.

I have attended 3 networking events and given out the attractive business cards: thanks again goes to Alex for designing them.

More importantly I have been spreading the word about TPZ. The more people that know we exist, the bigger our community can be, the more positive impact we can have on each other's lives.

I have been browsing in and out of COP26's pictures, articles and reports. Have you a favourite bit that you would like to share, let me know? I think my favourite new addition to my life because of COP26 is that I now know about Scotland's 'ancient rainforest' – and a small part of it still exists. It is in danger like the rest of the World's rainforest, but you know what they say knowledge is power – and if we don't know about it how can we actively help.

Protect the Rainforest! - Scotland's Rainforest!

Scotland has a rainforest? I did not know that either until very recently.

When we hear the term 'Rainforest', we automatically assume the tropical rainforest in places like Brazil and other countries in Central and South America, or India and Southeast Asia and even Australia & New Guinea. However, the world also has pockets of 'temperate rainforest'.

Do I hear the question: What is temperate rainforest?

Well, simply put, they are a unique habitat where ancient ash, birch, hazel, oak and pine trees flourish. Found in the temperate zones on the planet where they get heavy rain and experience high humidity. The forests contain boulders, crags, open glades, ravines and river-gorges. The nearby ocean influences them heavily.

Believe it or not, Europe has pockets of ancient temperate rainforest: including in Ireland, Norway, Bulgaria, Turkey and Scotland. Sometimes it is referred to as Atlantic or Celtic rainforest, and is, in world terms, extremely rare. These pockets of rainforest are home for rare lichens, fungi and several unusual animals.

It is not only the rare plant and animal species that rely on our temperate rainforest, but also human communities. They rely on it for leisure and health as well as for their local 'green' economy. There is a wider benefit provided by locking in carbon, which is a benefit that all rainforests provide.

Currently, we know all about COP26 happening in Glasgow and the serious issues we are having with the Earth's climate. Rainforests help stabilise the world's weather and help protect areas against drought – erosion – and floods, but we are seeing both types of rainforest being destroyed instead of being nurtured & protected.

Here in Scotland, the rainforest is in serious danger. What is threatening Scotland's Rainforest?

One of the biggest threats is invasive species – in particular the Rhododendron. Once this plant gets a foothold, it suffocates all other plants of light and nutrients. They then die out, leaving only the invasive rhododendron.

Some local landowners surrounding the rainforest insist on planting this and or conifer plantations. In relation to the rhododendron, the only solution is for locals and visitors to highlight spottings of new plants trying to get established and then for an organised session of digging them out. The conifer plantations are a money making business and threaten to encroach on the rainforest land.

Not everyone is happy about having some of their land taken up by rainforest. Another challenge is the forest deer. They are a natural part of a healthy woodland's ecosystem, however, the habitat has lost its deer predators, so they grow in numbers with nothing keeping a check on their herds. The forest will naturally regenerate with new seedlings, but the deer numbers are too great and are stripping out saplings as food before most can become established.

These are just two of the many challenges for the Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest: a partnership of concerned & interested organisations and individuals.

These are many more challenges facing the Alliance, who are trying to ensure the survival of 30,000 hectares of rainforest, which sounds a lot but is just under 2% of Scotland's woodland.

I have included a link to one of the YouTube videos about Scotland's rainforest.

If you are interested, please take a look. I would love to visit our rainforest some time in the near future.

Did you know about this little gem in Scotland? Have you ever visited it? I would be very interested in your experiences.

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Plant Blindness

After about 8am until evening time, during most of lock-down the 3 parks near me were buzzing with people getting fresh air, exercise and enjoying from afar the company of other people. All of this was very important for their mental health. Being a little bit of an introvert I opted for the much earlier time of 6am so that I too could get my fresh air, my exercise and enjoy the company of the trees, plants, birds, and the occasional human being from a distance, this was important for my mental and physical wellbeing. Although on my few trips out and about in the car, I saw people on the street, the noticeable concentrations were in the parks. Those trees and plants offered a health boost, even if we did not realise it. I recently found out about the condition of 'Plant Blindness'.

I would like you to think about your views about plants. Many of us see our relationship with plants as important, but many of us consider plants as expendable background décor of no real intrinsic value, apparently some of us do not even notice plants and trees – they are almost invisible. This latter frame of mind is more widespread than we realise. I live in a residential street – where there are very few lawns. You may think that is great, but they have replaced the lawns with chucky stones or concrete drives. I notice that 2 have even been replaced with fake grass.

This last summer I have seen 2 mature trees cut fully down outside my home, because they drop leaves and seeds that are not welcome to some neighbours. I wonder how many thought about the birds and insects that relied on those trees for home and food? Or that we now look out of our windows directly into other peoples' homes and no longer at the trees and the tree life?

“Plants fuel life on Earth. But people's obliviousness to them – and their intrinsic value to our own existence – is driving our mutual destruction.” Rain forest Alliance

COP26 is helping us to focus our attention more on climate change and everything connected. It comes up on the radio, television, online and even in our conversations. It is illustrating to us the general feeling on the street, on our streets, where we live and work.

What do I mean by that?

Well, we are seeing some leaders showing so much interest that they are sleeping through proceedings and only when it is their turn to speak are they actually taking part. Others that speak the right words but do not actually want to commit to anything that will spoil their current plans – maybe they hope it will go away at the end of the event or that someone else will deal with the issue. Then there are the advocates that understand that not only is action needed, but it has to be the right type of action and that has to happen now.

Over the summer, one neighbours remarked on how few bees were around. Online, some say they have seen few birds and fewer insects. Where are the habitats for these creatures? In gardens that contain a variety of plants, where there are bushes and trees to nest, where there are places to hide. I was very fortunate this year. My garden has been visited by heaps of insects and amazingly, I have also seen a few different types of bees. At certain times of the day, the larger shrubs were a cacophony of sounds, from I do not know how many feathered individuals. We do not want to lose these experiences and the animals need these places.

A glance over to my neighbour's side of the road showed a concrete garden with 2 parked cars and one more in front of his drive. He is not unusual and probably does not even realise that if everyone has the same as him, where are the bees going to get their supplies. I think there are many adults suffering a lack of awareness and have not joined up the dots.

“The lack of awareness of the role of plants in supporting human health is particularly striking if you consider that plants produce oxygen. We can’t breathe without them. They clean our water, they provide us with food and medicine, fibre for our clothes, material for our homes.” World Economic Forum

Perhaps one function of The Project Zen community could be to help highlight in our own ways; the importance of plants to human and non-human health. It can be in the way we use our own spaces, but also in conversations with others.

The health of the planet, including the climate issue, is strongly linked to the health of everything and everyone living on it, including us. We need to reconnect with the living world and loosen some of our reliance on the man- made world if we want to problem solve a heap of challenges that have already come our way, including the 'climate crisis'.

On a plus note, in 2020, sales on houseplants in the UK went up phenomenally. No matter the reason for buying them, there should be positive health consequences of having them in our homes. However, buying is not the only way to gain plants, maybe your friends have some you can take cuttings from [I will show how soon for anyone needing a bit of advice and help – or if you are local to the North East of Scotland, you might like to attend a face-to-face session]. This year, I have doubled my houseplant numbers, and keep seeing spaces where I think another would fit nicely.

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We are once again at the end of another newsletter and I hope you found it interesting. The next one will be the last for this year. We also all have Christmas to think about ... Guess what I shall be giving as Christmas presents.

Sarina Kosewsky-Griffiths


Web page:




• Resource Library – Encyclopedic entry: Rainforest

• Temperate Rainforest - also source of Earwort photo.


• The Woodland Trust: Scotland's Rainforest

• Rhododendron graphic: thanks go to Annie Spratt and Yoksel Zok for the use of their


• Why we need to rethink our relationship with plants and the natural world – World

Economic Forum.


• The Rain forest Alliance:

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