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Tanja Abbas


Free Forests Founder 

In 2018, I moved together with my family in a small forest in a rural part of The Netherlands, near the place where I was born and raised. As a child I would often spend time in the woods, and my experiences during this time, as well as the deep connection with the more-than-human world, have never left me.

The forest around my family home is managed by a nature conservation organisation. Shortly after we moved in, they cut down big healthy Oaks, Beeches and Pines because “it was the best for the forest” and “it was the way they always did it”. I was filled with grief by the early ending of the life of these vital trees. Also, I thought it was a mistake to cut the trees considering the droughts we experienced in Achterhoek region for several years now.

Since then I could also feel the presence of the trees in a new and different way. I have found myself open to a world of communication with trees, not only here around my home, but also in other places in the world. I have had these kind of experiences before, but never with the trees. Since the beginning of 2020, the trees have been my teachers. I also did a lot of self-directed research. These experiences have led me to seek a path in which I can speak up for the trees.

I want to help to shift the focus from trees as a commodity to trees as sentient beings, who have great wisdom and love for all life on Earth, which they want to share with us. I devote my time to the trees now, and raise awareness through different activities.

"As a society, we are increasingly confronted with sustainability challenges. This calls for unconventional approaches for seeking solutions. Tanja chooses the way of opening up to nature and listening to the insights that come. Moreover, she has the courage and the gift to share this with others in an empathetic way. That makes me curious. I would like to learn more about this approach in order to find a foothold to stand as leaders for a future in which people and nature are more in balance again."

André Nijhof
Professor of Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Stewardship
Nyenrode Business University
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