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What would you like first? - Currently Members Exclusive - Jan 29th

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Welcome to Currently’s members-only newsletter!
I’m Anna Abraham, Currently’s Mumbai-based climate journalist focused on all the ways the climate emergency overlaps with fights for justices around the world. In this newsletter, I’ll be bringing you originally-reported stories. And since you’re a paying member, your contributions are making all this work possible.
Thanks for joining us on this journey. - Anna Abraham
So all we’re asking is, what would you like first – the good news or the bad news?

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The good news is,
Darren Quek believes that education serves its true purpose when it teaches people how to live on their land. “I want to help bring children in a place between the earth and the stars,” he said, “and to open their eyes and senses to the natural environment”. To see this through, he founded Singapore’s first Forest School in 2016.
Currently spoke to Quek, the Principal of Forest School Singapore, on how the school connects children with nature in the context of climate warming. 
As of now, the school has weekly morning and afternoon sessions with about 10-20 children. They unanimously decide which areas of the forest they want to venture into and the tutor simply acts as a facilitator. The learning is organic and inherent in how the children play.
 Quek said, “We focus on three main approaches – child-led, nature-led, and context-led (cultural context). Our curriculum is nature itself, she provides it to us. This is the sixth year of Forest School. Our older kids are much more aware of the changing environment, but of course, the three and four-year-old students don’t understand this. They can understand what’s closer to them – plants and insects. This is how they gradually build a relationship with the environment.”
Quek brings in the aspect of destruction within nature and how his students reconcile with it. “It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. There are moments when nature can be violent and cruel. Similarly, kids have a tendency to pluck leaves and destroy things, but this is how they learn. They are curious about what makes a thing. Of course, we don’t want them to destroy the forests! I remember one time, my kids saw the Mimosa plant’s pretty flowers, and they plucked them. Then they told me ‘look around, it’s common, it’s everywhere. We won’t pluck what’s uncommon, we know those are rare’. I thought it was a funnily simple way of looking at extinction and endangerment.” 
A community is a lot like an ecosystem, says Quek. The ecosystem is something that keeps everything alive and functioning. To replicate this principle, the school tries to embody a community-based bonding in its sessions. He said, “We believe it takes a village to raise a child. A village doesn’t require everyone to be similar, not everyone is nature-loving. Some kids are scared of insects, some are scared of furry animals. But that’s okay, we all come together and make it work.”
Time spent in nature and fresh air is good for our kids' health. Children at Singapore’s Forest School learn about ecology and social skills in a natural environment.

Read more:

#Ecology #ForestSchool #Wildlife #Nature
The bad news is,
Bangladesh is the seventh-most vulnerable country to climate change. It is estimated that by 2050 one in every seven people in Bangladesh will be displaced by climate change. Gabura, an island to the entrance of the Sundarbans, is one such region living in fear of what may happen. The Sundarbans forests protect the people of Gabura against the cyclones that come from the Bay of Bengal. However, extractive business and tourism along with a climate-change-induced dependence on the forest make these communities more vulnerable to climate impacts.
Currently spoke to Kaamil Ahmed, a journalist who visited Bangladesh to cover the climate emergency.
He said, “The people of Gabura are completely connected to the land. One of the people I spoke to said it is from life to death, everyone is dependent on it. Islanders collect honey from the forests and, fish and crabs from the river. However, repeated flooding and devastating cyclone have ruined the embankments and turned the soil infertile. This forces more and more people to turn to the forest for work, it’s either that or day-laboring. Earlier, it would be specialized honey collectors who would undertake such work in the forest, but now, more have to do these jobs. The old balance of extraction and preservation has been lost.” 
The marked entry of big businesses and tourism further threatens this balance. The forest department provides licenses to the people to carry out work for these businesses but it proves to be insufficient. There may be 100 licenses given out at a time when 10,000 people need to go to the forest. Locals also tend to cheat officials and sneak in more produce or fish than they are allowed to. This is the only way they can make a living. Ahmed says that the people are alienated from their own labor. When he was at Gabura he did not see anyone selling Sundarbans honey extracted from the region, but in a big city like Dhaka, it is sold at every convenience store.
Climate impacts have also increased migration in the region, making people more vulnerable to trafficking and modern slavery. They are lured to other regions such as Dublar Char, with the promise of work and forced to take on slave labor.
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