A book about a microcosm of earth and incredible capacities in nature
The Nilgiri Biosphere is one of the most rich vibrant ecosystems in the world, with hundreds of animals and over 3,300 flowering plant species, out of which 132 are endemic to this region. This place is also home to nearly 30 different indigenous peoples groups. However, these mountains are also subject to extensive development, increased human habitation and loss of native biodiversity. Research also showed that were alarming threats to the landscape due to climate change. Thus, effective change could be brought about in this landscape, only if it could happen all the world, at the same time. In other words, both local and global changes are needed both from ground level and every level above to facilitate effective change.
To find out solutions for these issues, Vasanth explored deeper into the natural aspects of these mountainscapes to learn more about its history of interaction with life. Learning that the global problems lied in the way dominant human cultures related to nature and the environments, he wanted to find out if solutions could lie within this ancient mountain landscape.
Indigenous peoples all over the planet have always said that mountains are alive; rivers are sentient; and that the lands have an intelligence. So far, this has not been accepted in science, and much of human civilization is built on the destructive utilization of land-bases and more. Could uncovering this fundamental relation in nature, help at this time when life on the planet is being gravely endangered?
Voice of a Sentient Highland captures the colossal story of the Nilgiris - a mountainous landscape in South India. Within this record is evidence of mountains being alive and intelligent, in a form that science can accept. Based on nine years of in-depth research, underlying geological process are found working in volition, along with a myriad of plant ecological dynamics, to depict crucial patterns. The story and explication of the stark patterns is woven together with images and illustrations into a rich visual narrative.
Vasanth finds that the voice of the mountain goes deeper than much of the current efforts for environmental and social change. Claiming that many of the `solutions’ are inadequate and exacerbate decline, he translates this voice, into five guides and solutions that are crucial for our collective future.
This book has two distinct modules. The first module reads like a deep natural story of this landscape - the Niligirs Highlands. It also builds evidence for why this region is a microcosm of earth. The first module reads the natural history of earth and serves as a primer for plant ecology - as chapters 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 cover are plant ecology based.
The second module is where the analysis of evidence takes place. This is where the proof that the mountains are alive, is drawn out. This module also contains a manifesto for global change that is woven together along with five key messages from the mountain landscape.
Imagine that a mountain can sense that the rest of the plant is in grave danger. A corner of earth had anticipated that this type of destruction might take place, and has left key messages to the species causing the decline.
"The only way of stopping the destruction being wrecked on the planet, is by showing that the land is alive. A must read for everyone."
- Derrick Jensen -
Author of Endgame, Myth of Human Supremacy, Dreams and several other books
"Voice of a Sentient Highland is a simply wonderful book. Highly recommended. A very in depth look at the highland system in the Western Ghat Mountains in Western India."
- John Dennis Liu -
Restoration Ecologist and Film-maker
"Voice of a Sentient Highland is both vast in scope and loyal to a place. It is a map, a natural history guide, a manifesto, and a meditation."
- Suprabha Seshan -
Ecologist, Writer and Educator, winner of the Whitney Conservation Award
As much as this book is a story of the Nilgiri upland
region, it also presents findings and offers solutions
to the world. The findings and connections are aimed
at bridging a huge gap in the way we understand
nature. Thus, every level of detail needed to establish
the evidence scientifically, is presented in the book.
A main narrative, with all the details, forms the bulk
of the book. A second narrative, which reads like a
short story, runs in parallel to the main narrative.
This shorter narrative appears in yellow boxes and
is found at the right hand-bottom corner of almost
every second or third page.
The shorter narrative occurs throughout most of the
book. Towards the end of the first module (middle of
the seventh chapter), both the narratives combine.
It is here that the five crucial guides and solutions
to the world are drawn, based on the evidence and
With the two connected narratives, there are multiple
ways of reading the book
Comprehensive - Read both the main narrative and
shorter narrative throughout the first module, and
read the second module, which has a combined
Fast - Read the shorter narrative through the first
module, and then the entire second module.
Intermediate - In the first module, choose the
sections of the main narrative that you would like to
read, along with the shorter narrative, and then the
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