Although the problems of the world may at times seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that if you are prepared to look there is good news. The spirit of the people is stirring. Many people are seeking a world that is inclusive, caring and based on collaborative values: a world that places people and our planet at the hub of life. It’s mutuality in action.

Have you ever wanted to make a positive contribution to the state of the environment?

Have you ever felt you would like to live more sustainably and co-operatively but don’t have the resources to do so?

Do you like the idea of exploring ways to reduce your ecological footprint on your local community and support others to do the same?

Then the Foresters ANA Eco Fund may be of interest to you.

The Eco Fund is a mutual aid initiative that helps people financially leverage themselves and others to bring about ecologically sustainable change. The Eco Fund aims to assist people to cope more easily with issues such as a worsening physical environment, personal isolation, excessive consumerism and exclusion from mainstream banking institutions. The Fund helps financially resource people to live more sustainably and supports people to act together to make positive contributions to the state of the environment.

The Eco Fund pools contributions from members and provides no interest loans (benefits) to contributing members from that common pool of money. All benefits paid to members are used to purchase or otherwise bring about ecologically sustainable improvements to that members home or locality. It is in effect `environmental money recycling’.

The Eco Fund is based on the values of Mutual Aid: reciprocal or co-operative exchange that benefits you while also helping others. Any interested person may apply to join the Eco Fund. Once accepted for membership, the member makes a regular monthly contribution of $10 per month. A benefit of up to $2000 can be applied for, provided there are sufficient funds available, when that member has made contributions for a period of 12 months, is not in arrears and can demonstrate that the benefit will be used to bring about or promote ecological sustainability. Any contribution made into the Eco Fund always belongs to the member making the contribution. Membership is open to anyone, bush dwellers and city cousins alike. The Eco Fund currently has members from South East Queensland to Tasmania, all supporting each other to care for the earth.

“When I moved to Tamborine Mountain I was fortunate to find a place to live on the eastern escarpment, bordering Joalah National Park. The steep slopes of dry rainforest were in reasonable shape, with Tallow wood, Brush Box and Breynia predominating, but the margin was the usual tangle of lantana, cassia, mist flower, exotic ginger and escapee grass and garden ornamentals. From the beginning, I wanted to bring the bush back up the slopes towards the house.

I joined Bush Volunteers, a group that works on the Mountain under the supervision of Queensland Parks and Wildlife, and I met some long-time Mountain residents and conservationists who encouraged me and shared their knowledge. A plan was made to plant 500 native species a metre apart which would, within about a year form a low canopy that wouldn’t block the view and would be basically self sustaining. Plants were chosen from local rainforest species with a view to providing maximum diversity and architecture to attract and create habitat for local birds and animals.

The next task was to find the money. Some people from Bush Volunteers and Sustainable Gardeners, as well as friends, neighbours and relatives, had said they would like to help, so I knew that some of my labour costs were covered. I had been an active member of the Eco Fund so I applied for a loan of $2000 to cover the costs of plants, mulch, materials and preparatory labour. It was hard work but a deep pleasure to have 500 living reasons out there to be hopeful for a small piece of the Tamborine Mountain escarpment. Thank you to the Foresters ANA Eco Fund, Tamborine Bush Volunteers and everyone else who helped generously with their time and energy.” Eco Fund Member Mount Tamborine, Q.LD. (Excerpt from an article first published in Seeds Newsletter Summer 2002.)

It is inspiring to think that we can all make conscience choices to act in ways that meet the needs of the present without reducing the opportunities available to future generations. Every change and every choice we make has an impact on the planet. Whether it’s the installation of a rain water tank, the creation of a food forest in your back yard or the rehabilitation of a section of bush in your community.

Support the values of Mutual Aid. Care for the environment and help to collectively promote ecological sustainability. Contact Foresters ANA today.