Prayers for the planet

The last category on the weekly list of Prayer Needs is “For the environment”, which was added around a year ago. The observant may have noticed that since then some of the items have appeared 2 or 3 times, so the Eco Church group has recently revised and extended the list and range of prayer needs that will be appearing over the coming months. In most cases we have suggested a topic and leave it to the reader to decide if they wish to pray about or for something more specific. Some weeks there will be more topical prayer items, such as during
COP28 which begins in November (see next item).


COP28 starts at the end of November, hosted in Dubai by the United Arab Emirates – one of the top 5 countries in the world in terms of per capita carbon emissions. It will be presided over by the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which is simultaneously a cause for concern and a potential opportunity. Either way, the increasingly obvious and devastating impacts of climate change, and the recent weakening of governments’ resolve to take action, make it difficult not to feel somewhat pessimistic. “There is simply a huge mismatch between the depth of
actions governments and businesses are taking and the transformative shifts that are needed to address the climate crisis” the Director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute said recently. But we must continue to hope and pray, and one sign of hope is that this year faith-based organisations will be
more in evidence at COP than ever before. For the first time there will be a “Faith Pavilion” giving a platform for religious leaders to engage with and inspire hope and ambition among political delegations. For those of us not going to Dubai, Green Christian in UK is organising 10-minutes of on-line prayer and reflection daily at 8am
during COP, led by Rev Andrew Norman. Register here:

Knowing Creation, Knowing God: The Forgotten Rainforests of Britain

From time to time we seek to open eyes in these pages to some of the wonders of God’s creation, and what makes them precious given the ecological challenges of our time.

When it comes to rainforests the rapid demolition of the tropical rainforests, in such places as the Amazon basin and Indonesia, in order to supply our lust for such luxuries as hardwood furniture, non-sustainable electricity, paper and beef, has long been a cause célèbre in discussions of climate change and biodiversity loss.

But the vast majority of people are unaware of the existence and importance of temperate rainforests. Globally covering just 1% of earth’s land surface they are restricted to land close to the coasts in mid-latitudes in North America, southern Chile, Tasmania and New Zealand, Japan and Korea. Plus a few pockets in Britain and Norway. They need ocean air, high rainfall and humidity combined with moderate warmth to thrive. As with other rainforests their significance lies in the diversity of other life, both fauna and flora, that the trees support

The photos are ones I took last month in the Hoh rainforest in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, where the spruce trees rise up to 300 feet. Our local examples on the fringes of Dartmoor, of which Wistman’s Wood just north of Two Bridges in the Dart Valley is best-known, consist of scrubby oaks with some hazel, holly and hawthorn. The real interest is in the lichens, liverworts, mosses and epiphytic ferns that grow non-parasitically on the trees, providing the greatest concentration of oceanic lichens and mosses in Europe, and the best examples of some species.

In addition to providing rare habitats and extensive biodiversity, temperate rain-forests typically sink more carbon per hectare than tropical ones. Whilst tropical rainforests have been shrinking, temperate ones have mainly held their own over the last half-century, and Wistman’s Wood even shows signs of natural expansion now that the Duchy of Cornwall has limited the grazing of the margins. They are an essential albeit rare part of earth’s whole ecosystem, and are also magical places to visit and feel close to the Creator and the long history of created life. Stephen Mosedale.