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庇荫生态保护与埃塞俄比亚北部的“圣林”

更新时间:2019/6/12 21:04:48 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The 'sacred forests' of northern Ethiopia
庇荫生态保护与埃塞俄比亚北部的“圣林”

A group of children were listening to a story beneath the shade of an African juniper tree in a small church forest near Debre Tabor in northern Ethiopia. Three women walked along a path, the sound of their chatting permeating the dense trees as our group of 12 people, clearly foreigners, approached.

埃塞俄比亚北部的德伯雷泰伯镇(Debre Tabor)附近的教堂森林里,一群孩子挤在非洲杜松树荫下听故事。我们一行12个人(看起来明显是外国人)走近树林,三个女人从路边走过,她们的交谈声透过浓密的树林传了过来。

When the children spotted us at the forest’s edge, they came running along the dusty path, jumped over a low rock wall, ducked under branches and approached us curiously. I was tagging along with a group of researchers led by ecologist Dr Catherine Cardelús from Colgate University in New York state and Bernahu Tsegay from Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia who were here to learn about the forest’s ecology. The kids, meanwhile, were already experts. They knew every inch of the place; having grown up in these trees, this is the only forest they have ever seen.

孩子们发现我们来到树林边,即沿着尘土飞扬的小路向我们跑来,他们跳过一堵低矮的石墙,躲到树枝下,好奇地接近我们。我身边是一群研究人员,由纽约州科尔盖特大学的生态学家卡德勒斯博士(Dr Catherine Cardelús)带队来了解这里的森林生态。这些孩子们已经是这方面的专家了,因为他们在这座树林里长大,这也是他们唯一见过的森林,他们对这里了如指掌。

I was in a ‘sacred forest’, more than 1,000 of which are scattered across the landscape in a near perfect lattice, each protecting a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox church at its centre. These small, neat clusters of trees, each about 2km away from the next, ensure that the local people are never far from the forests that are so deeply rooted in their social and spiritual lives. They’re used as community centres, meeting places and schools; for religious ceremonies, burial grounds and even bathrooms; and provide the only shade for miles. Although some sacred forests are fairly accessible, like the island forests on Lake Tana that can be visited on a half-day boat tour from the city of Bahir Dar, in the rural, mountainous landscapes of South Gondar, east of Bahir Dar, where I now was, the church forests can be harder to find.

我现所在的这片森林被称为“圣林”。在埃塞俄比亚还有一千多片这样的森林以近乎完美的格子状分散于各地,每片森林都守护着位于其中心的一座传统埃塞俄比亚正教教堂。根植于当地人民社会和精神生活中,这些整齐分布的小森林彼此之间相隔约2公里,所以任何当地人都离教堂不远。埃塞俄比亚森林教堂担当了很多社会功能,比如说社区中心、集会地点、学校、宗教仪式举行地、埋骨之地甚至是厕所,也为长途跋涉者洒下仅有的一片阴凉。有些圣林很容易找到,比如说塔纳湖上的岛屿森林,从巴赫尔达尔城(Bahir Dar)出发,坐半个小时船即可到达,而我现在所在的地方,贡德尔南部、巴赫尔达尔以东的乡村山区,教会森林就难找得多了。

Each dot of green stands out on the landscape because they are some of the only trees left in a country that’s experienced widespread deforestation. Some forests are more than 1,000 years old, and these precious trees have been spared thanks to shadow conservation – conservation as a by-product of religious stewardship. But they are small and threatened by encroaching roads, buildings and farmers' fields. Paradoxically, humans have both protected them yet pose the biggest threat to their future.

每片森林在这片土地上都十分显眼,因为在埃塞俄比亚经历过大规模乱砍滥伐后,这是该国仅存的绿色地。有些圣林已有一千多年的历史,这些珍贵的树木得以保存下来要归功于“庇荫生态保护”,即一种因宗教信仰所附带产生的生态保护现象。即便如此,圣林面积依旧很小,并且仍受到道路、房屋和田地扩张的威胁。矛盾的是,人类既要保护这些森林,又对这些森林的存亡构成了最大的威胁。

A priest appeared at the forest’s edge and listened as our interpreter explained that we were here to learn more about the relationship between the local people and the forests they worship in. He nodded, and we followed him along a dusty path into the forest’s shade, leaving the shimmering heat of the farmers’ fields behind.

一位埃塞俄比亚正教会的教士来到森林边,经过翻译的解释,他知道了我们来这儿的目的是探究当地人与他们作崇拜的森林之间的关系。他点了点头,然后我们跟着他沿着尘土飞扬的小路走进森林,将田间蒸腾的热气留在了身后。

The forests average just five football fields in size, so it only took a few minutes to make our way from the outer edge to the church in the middle. The entire forest consisted of a ring of trees that formed a doughnut shape around a central clearing. A stone wall surrounded the clearing and a round church sat in the middle with an ornate cross on top, the national colours – red, yellow and green – boldly outlining the roof. I later learned that the symbolic distance between the church and this wall is traditionally described as ‘40 arm-lengths of an angel away’.

每片森林的平均面积只有五个足球场那么大,所以用不了几分钟就从外缘走到了中间的教堂。森林中的树木以环状排列,围绕着中间的一块空地,形状酷似甜甜圈。空地被石墙环绕着,中间坐落着一座圆形教堂,顶部点缀着华丽的十字架,红、黄、绿三色醒目地勾勒出屋顶的轮廓。后来我才知道,教堂和这堵墙之间的距离传统上被描述为“40臂之遥的天使”。

The priest explained that the forests are sacred because each houses a tabot in the centre of the church, which is thought to be a replica of the original Ark of the Covenant. The sanctity of the tabot radiates outward from the centre, so that the closer one is to the church, the more sacred the space. The same goes for the trees – they are seen as ‘clothing’ for the church, part of the church itself, which is why just a small ring of trees – those closest to the church – has been protected, creating tiny forests with fields pushing right up to the edges.

教士解释说,教堂森林之所以神圣是因为每座教堂里都收藏着一个“塔波特”(Tabot),据说是原版约柜的摹本。“塔波特”圣洁的光环从中心向外扩散,所以离教堂越近的地方就越神圣。圣林中的树木也是如此,它们与教堂融为一体,被视为教堂的一件衣服,这就是为什么只有离教堂最近的一小圈树木得以被护下来,构成了一片片被田野包围的小森林。

Small forests, however, are more susceptible to human and natural disturbances, and this region has undergone massive deforestation over the past few decades. Today, only about 5% of Ethiopia is covered in forest, compared to around 45% about a century ago. Although it’s mostly the trees between the forests that have disappeared, the sacred forests are indirectly affected, too.

然而,小森林更易受到人类活动和自然灾害的影响。在过去的几十年里,埃塞俄比亚大面积的森林遭到滥砍滥伐。如今,埃塞俄比亚的森林覆盖率只有5%,而在一世纪前,这一数字高达45%。虽然消失的主要是森林之间的树木,但圣林也受到了间接的影响。

Sitting cross-legged near the edge of the forest with the team’s geographer, Dr Peter Scull, we watched a farmer driving his oxen through his neighbouring field. Scull told me how the team of researchers used a trail of historic photographic records to pinpoint the location of these forests, measure their size and determine exactly how the landscape has changed over the last century. It turns out that technologies developed for war are now helping inform a project on conservation in church forests.

我和队里的地理学家斯库尔博士(Dr Peter Scull)盘腿坐在林边,看着农夫赶牛穿过旁边的田地。斯库尔告诉我,研究小组是如何利用历史影像记录来精确定位、测量大小,并确定在过去一个世纪里森林地貌发生了怎样的变化。想不到为战争所开发的技术现在正在助力保护教堂森林。

Scull explained that in the late 1930s, the occupying Italian army took aerial photos of the region and stored the images in ammunition boxes when they withdrew in 1941. They weren’t found again until 2014, when 8,000 images turned up in the basement of the Ethiopian Mapping Agency in Addis Ababa.

斯库尔解释说,上世纪30年代末,占领埃塞俄比亚的意大利军队对埃塞俄比亚进行了航拍,并在1941年撤退时把这些照片储存在弹药箱里,直到2014年,在埃塞俄比亚测绘局位于亚的斯亚贝巴的地下室里才发现了意大利军队遗留的8000张照片。

After World War Two, in the 1960s, the US Corona satellite programme also passed over the region. The Corona programme was the US’s first photoreconnaissance spy satellite that was launched during the height of the Cold War to identify potential USSR missile launch sites. Former US President Bill Clinton declassified the images in 1995, and a comparison of the historical images with modern Google Earth images showed the researchers that the forests boundaries haven’t shrunk – and some, in fact, have grown, thanks to the planting of non-native eucalyptus trees for timber harvesting.

二战结束后的上世纪60年代,美国的科罗纳卫星测绘计划也包含了这个地区。“科罗纳”是美国首个空中摄影侦察间谍卫星,于冷战高潮时期发射,用于识别前苏联可能的导弹发射场。1995年,美国前总统克林顿(Bill Clinton)解密了这批图片,研究人员将这些历史照片与现在谷歌地球的照片进行对比后发现森林的边界其实并没有缩小,而且,事实上一些森林反而还扩大了,因为当地人民为了获取木材种植了非本地树种的桉树。

But the images show that trees and shrubs used to grow outside the forest proper, which acted as a buffer zone and protected the trees from wind, erosion, and temperature and humidity changes. In the past few decades, the trees in the buffer zone have been harvested for construction and fuel, and the land converted to farmland. There’s no gradual transition from forest to farmland anymore; the buffer zone has completely disappeared.

但图像显示,历史上教堂森林之外还生长有树木和灌木,起到了缓冲带的作用,保护树木免受风沙侵蚀和温度湿度变化的影响。在过去的几十年里,缓冲带里的树木被用作建材和燃料,林地也变成了田地。森林和田地之间没有任何过渡,缓冲带就这样完全消失了。

The photos also reveal that what used to be an unbroken canopy of greenery now has gaps that let sunlight in where there should be shade. And with fewer trees between forests, each one has become an isolated refuge for plants and animals. From the air, the splashes of green forests look like survivors huddled together for protection.

此外,从照片里我们还可以看出,原来的森林十分密实,而现在阳光可以通过稀疏的树木照射进原密不透光的林间。随着森林间树木的减少,每一片森林都成为了动植物的孤立栖息地。从空中俯瞰大地,散落的绿色森林就像挤在一起寻求保护的幸存者。

The aerial shots, however, can’t capture what kinds of trees are growing, how many seedlings there are, whether the soil has the nutrients that plants need and how much human disturbance there is. For that, you need boots on the ground.

然而,仅通过航拍我们无法得知生长树木的种类、幼苗的数量,以及土地是否有植物所需营养和人类活动造成了多大的干扰。所以,我们需要派出“地面部队”。

Throughout the day, the researchers took soil and leaf samples from species like the Prunus africana, the African cherry with its expansive crown, and Juniperus procera, the African juniper, a slow-growing native tree that was used to build churches when it was more plentiful. The kids gathered around us, shyly at first but then calling out the tree names in Amharic, laughing when we tried to repeat the words. Some kids asked if this was the most beautiful forest we’d ever seen.

我们这群研究者花了整整一天收集土壤和植物树叶样本,比如说非洲李(一种树冠宽大的非洲樱桃)和非洲杜松(当地一种生长缓慢的树木,过去数量丰富时用于建造教堂)。围在我们身边的孩子们刚开始都很害羞,但没过一会就争着用阿姆哈拉语喊出树木的名称,听完我们模仿的发音后哈哈大笑。有些孩子问我们:“这是不是你们见过的最美森林?”

However, we weren’t in a lush tropical rainforest or the endless coniferous forests of North America. Forests like this, where there are a lot of man-made structures like paths, buildings and clearings, tend to have an abundance of dense, weedy plants that stifle other growth, and there are too many non-native trees growing in place of native species.

然而,我们并非置身苍翠繁茂的热带雨林或北美无边无际的针叶林。像这样的森林,有许多人造的痕迹,如小路、楼房和空地,往往还有大片杂草般的植物,抑制了其他植物的生长,同时还有太多非本土树种,侵占了本土物种的地盘。

The forests are alive, but they’re not in great shape. And while the next generation of kids run in and out of the trees, playing games, when it comes time for them to take on the stewardship role, there’s concern about what will be left.

这些森林充满生机,但却并不健康。现在孩子们在森林里跑进跑出、嬉戏玩耍,但当他们要承担起管理工作的时候,就会开始担心这些遗留的问题。

A healthy forest should have a robust canopy and young trees in the understory. “Some of the forests we go to have these beautiful, gorgeous, big trees,” said ecologist Dr Carrie Woods, gesturing up at the canopy, “but the problem is, you look underneath and it’s grass and rocks.” In some forests, there is no next generation of trees.

一片健康的森林应有浓密茂盛的树冠和生长于林下叶层的树苗。生态学家伍兹博士(Carrie Woods)指着树冠说:“我们去过的森林有的树确实很粗壮美丽,但问题是,你往下看,就会发现树下满是杂草和岩石。”某些森林里,根本没有幼苗。

However, while the forests aren’t robust, Cardelús says that they also aren’t being degraded as much as they feared. Some parishes are taking direct steps to bolster forest health by adding a low stone wall around the outer forest perimeter to prevent livestock coming in to graze. And it helps a little, allowing richer seedling communities to grow.

虽然这些森林并没有那么想象中那么健康,但卡德勒斯说其退化程度也没有我们所担心的那么严重。一些教区已经开始采取措施,比如说在森林外围加盖一堵低矮的石墙,防止牲畜破坏森林,从而改善森林健康。这些措施确实有用,能让幼苗茁壮成长。

Parishes also take advantage of government programmes to provide free seedlings. Unfortunately, the seedlings are often non-native trees like eucalyptus, which outcompetes the slower-growing native species. Eucalyptus plantations have sprung up on the edges of many sacred forests and have become central to the economy. In a country that needs its scarce wood for cooking and building, eucalyptus has been a saviour, and in the end, it’s a tough choice to balance the desire for native species with the need for fast-growing timber to sell.

教区还得益于政府提供免费幼苗的项目。不幸的是,这些树苗通常是像桉树这样的非本地树种,会和生长较慢的本地树种争夺营养。桉树种植园出现在许多圣林的外缘地区,成为当地经济的主力军。在这样一个木材贫瘠的国家,烧火做饭和建房就要依靠桉树,而最终,人们不得不面临两难境地,既希望发展本地物种又要依靠能快速生长的桉树赚钱。

So far, the team has visited 44 sacred forests in South Gondar, hiking up dusty hillsides, across streams and fields to the mountaintop sites where they interview priests about their religious stewardship of the forest and take soil and leaf samples to measure the biodiversity. Cardelús hopes that the information they gather will help with conservation strategies moving forward, like starting nurseries to grow native seedlings, removing exotic or weedy species, and limiting more building inside the forests.

到目前为止,这个团队的足迹已经遍布了贡德尔南部的44座圣林。他们爬上尘土飞扬的山坡,穿过溪流和农田,来到山顶。在那里,他们采访教士,了解他们对森林的宗教管理,并采集土壤和树叶样本,以测量生物的多样性。卡德勒斯希望他们收集的信息能有助于实施保护埃塞俄比亚森林的策略,比如建立苗圃培育本地幼苗,移除外来物种或杂草,以及限制林内建筑数量等。

“But in the end,” Cardelús said, “our research shows that shadow conservation really works.”

卡德勒斯说,“但最后,我们的研究表明,庇荫生态保护确实有效。”

“People are the ones who need these forests and they are the ones who’ve preserved them, so we should celebrate what the local people have done, help them do it better and help support shadow conservation in other places.”

“人们需要这些森林,也肩负起了保护森林的责任,所以我们应该赞赏当地人民所做的一切,助他们一臂之力,并帮助其他地方实施庇荫生态保护。”

By late afternoon, the novelty of us as visitors seemed to have only partially worn off. A shepherd, still carrying his staff, snapped a shot of us with his flip phone. Cardelús thanked the priest, and once again, the kids tagged along. One young boy pulled out a handmade flute and, like the pied piper, he led us out of the forest and back across the fields to shrieks of laughter from his companions.

到黄昏时,对我们这些游客的新鲜感似乎只减弱了少许。一个拿着手杖的牧羊人用他的翻盖手机给我们拍了一张照片。卡德勒斯对教士表示了感谢,孩子们又开始寸步不离地跟着她。一个小男孩拿出一只手工制作的笛子,像花衣魔笛手一样,带着我们走出森林后穿过田野折回,不时和同伴们发出阵阵大笑。

It was clear the community’s spiritual and cultural lives are entwined in these trees. Despite their small size and the amount of human disturbance, the cultural attachment to a place – one that’s been worshipped in, walked on and harvested for hundreds of years – has been the conservation tool that’s saved them.

显然,这个社区的精神和文化生活与森林紧密相连。尽管森林面积小,人类活动频繁,但几百年来人们一直在这片神圣的森林中崇拜上帝繁衍生息,这份对于家乡的文化依恋挽救了这些森林。

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