Our Vision

The Awakened Forest Project is reviving an area of mostly abandoned pine monoculture nestling in the hillsides of the Serra do Açor. Fuelled by a passion for Life and a love of the Earth we are starting to recreate the broadleaf paradise that is natural to the area. Motivated by a conviction of the innate positivity of life we are passionate about working with this land as we recognise that even before we begin to work with it, it is supporting us, body and soul.

The pine and eucalyptus monocultures that cover most of the land in this area are extremely detrimental to biodiversity, climate, wildlife and the water cycle. As in most areas with monocultures there is a startling lack of biodiversity in a region which could be rich and diverse. The resinous pines and eucalypts are highly flammable and every summer devastating fires ravage the region.

Sacred Activism

The exploitation and neglect of the land and forest here is but one small example of what is happening in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Convinced of our superiority and separation from Nature we humans treat our planet like a supermarket to provide for our ever increasing wants at any cost. Many of us are recognising this simply can't go on - the model of infinite economic growth that drives this plunder of nature is insane and immoral. We are also recognising that it isn't enough to only try to stop or repair the damage. We see that all our global crises are caused by the way human beings relate to the planet, themselves and each other. This must change, otherwise any other changes we make will not be lasting or sustainable because they will still be operating within the old paradigm of fear and separation. We need nothing less that a shift in consciousness that embraces the totality of who we are and recognises all the ways we need to transform for lasting change to occur. So as we work here in the forest, we are not only focused on outer change but also on inner transformation - that of our individual consciousness and also of our collective consciousness that shapes our culture. Through meditation, enquiry and living simply in nature we ground ourselves in a deeper dimension of existence. We loosen our focus from our conditioned beliefs and habits and learn to relate to everything from a saner, more authentic and more loving place.

Sustainable resources

We have a vision of these beautiful hillsides green and verdant with an abundance of species, naturally resistant to fires and bursting with life. The native tree species of this area provide a wealth of food resources. Building wood and firewood can be provided with careful and correct management. We are planting trees and other perennials to provide locally for our needs and by growing a range of species we increase the diversity of resources available. We are growing species that have been cultivated in the area for centuries and also carefully selected exotic species from all over the world. Through observation and experimentation, taking care not to introduce invasive species, we are finding out what wants to grow here and how we can assist the natural processes to reinvigorate this land. We hope to inspire and inform other people near and far, as we are inspired and informed also.  

Education and Learning

We are creating opportunities for experiential learning about all aspects of sustainable woodland living. We want to show people how it is possible to live more directly with nature; growing and using the resources provided. It is our experience that when given the chance to live simply it opens our eyes to where the resources we use originate and what it takes to obtain them. A simple example; to make a fire we must find the firewood, cut it from the forest, carry it out, chop it up, dry it, take it to the house then light the fire. This takes time and energy and thought. We start to appreciate resources and become reluctant to waste them and seeing the results of our actions we realize that our actions have consequences. This reconnects us with all of our responsibilities in a way where we are empowered and motivated to make other significant changes in our lives.  

Discovering realness

So often these days reality is the content of a screen, we communicate through machines and everything is available through the touch of a button. There is nothing innately wrong with these technologies which may have the potential to serve us and the evolution of our culture. However so many of us are over stimulated and confused by our culture and the myriad possibilities available. What happens when we unplug from that complexity for a time? We want to give space for really important questions to arise. Who are we and what is real? What are our values? What is our true potential and are we living up to that? What are our real needs? What serves us and what does not? In which direction is our culture evolving? And is this the direction we want to go in? Meditation and direct contact with nature creates the space for more authentic responses to life emerge and living more simply gives us time to enquire deeply into these questions.

The work of Transformation

It is important to face the crisis of our time with open eyes and understand that the mainstream culture we live in is not based on deeply human values. If we can see clearly then we will recognise that the culture we have created is insane. There is a great confusion about what really matters and what we think we want. If we look at the values that drive our culture, what are they? Money, status, financial security, entertainment and feeling good. Are these the values we want to shape our lives and our relationships? If not what are the values we aspire to live by?

If we are pulled to live by different values than the ones we have been living in our culture we need to take responsibility and start doing everything we can to live our own values. Deeper insights or higher aspirations are only of significance if they determine our actions and therefore who we are and what we create in this world. We need to make the shift in consciousness that we want to see on a large scale first for ourselves individually. This is what Gandhi meant by “Be the change you want to see in the world”. We know of no other way for the radical change that is needed to occur. We have found in our own experience that this takes guts, determination and a big heart as we are often more conditioned than we realise to reproduce the same culture that created our conditioning in the first place. To break free of the old values takes courage and we need each other to reflect where we are at and support our making new choices. 

Awakening to the Mystery 

So to us it is clear that we will not be able to respond to the crisis of our times and find a way to be truly happy if we don’t become interested in our own interiority - what is going on inside of us and who we are beyond our culturally conditioned ideas and beliefs about ourselves and the world. We have come to know that humans have an enormous capacity for goodness but the reason that we are not manifesting that in the world is because of the habit to separate ourselves - individually and collectively - from all that is around us. So that we exist as a separate, small ‘me' in a threatening universe that needs to protect itself and look after its own interests. When we see through this habit - which we call ego - we realise that we are not separate from anything at all. Individual, yes, but not isolated - from each other, Nature or Life itself. The work of seeing this habit to separate and limit ourselves is not easy, we really need each other to reflect the behaviours we are so accustomed to that we don’t see.

When we see through the false ideas of separation what is left is simply who we are in this moment - open, vulnerable, real. Then the intimacy, joy and passion that flows between us and everything around us is overwhelmingly beautiful. We awaken to the reality that in essence we are one unified consciousness, the Mystery of Life itself. We realise we have never been separate, there is nothing to defend or protect. This is the shift of consciousness that which will change the world.


Practical Ecosystem Restoration
Helping Nature to get back on her feet after years of monoculture and wildfires.
Practical Ecosystem Restoration
Would you like to come and help plant some native forest, learn about ecosystem regeneration and reconnect with Nature and yourself? Then join us on an Awakened Forest Project work weekend.
Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - Sunday December 1st 10.30 - 4pm

Another opportunity to begin to learn the art and science of foraging in our beautiful valley in the Serra do Açor.

Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - June 2020

People have retreated to wild places for millennia to find inner peace and a greater perspective on life. Nature, in it’s simplicity and beauty, supports a profound relaxation in body, mind and soul.


It has been a long time since I have written a blog post because so much has been ongoingly changing in the last year. I wanted to wait until the dust and ash had settled and I knew where I would be before I wrote.

Many of the plants and trees the bees and other insects thrive on have burnt in the October fires and will not be flowering this year and some not next year either if they recover at all. Here are my suggestions on how to help the pollinators through these lean times.

God these are heartbreaking times. Rain that was so longed for in the summer is now pouring off these hills taking soil and stone and track with it onto the terraces and into rivers.


Many people have asked us how they can help in the wake of the fires and all we have lost. We are very touched and grateful for these offers of support. Here are some ways you can help:

We have started building the second floor of the workshop!! This will be our last major build here and will provide a dormitory and meditation/workshop room which will increase our capacities for events and hosting people, especially outside of the summer months.