Our friends in Colombia have again broken new ground in the cause for avian conservation. Recently, ProAves engaged in an educational campaign aimed at a change in the annual observance of Palm Sunday, in which devout Catholics would recreate the procession of Jesus into Jerusalem just days before his crucifixtion. In the story, the people of Jerusalem came out in droves to hail Jesus as their king and messiah, and they both waved and spread on the ground before him palm leaves from the nearby trees. To this day, Catholics all over the world hold palm leaves on the Sunday before Easter to commemorate the story.
Unlike my family in Upstate NY who celebrated Palm Sunday with bundles of imported palm, local people in Colombia have their own wax palms – the national tree of Colombia – to harvest for this purpose. This use of wax palm, along with the tree’s use as a source of carnauba wax and for other purposes, has threatened wax palm with extinction. As goes the wax palm, so goes the endangered Yellow-eared Parrot (featured in ProAves’ logo) which both nests in cavities in wax palm trunks and relies heavily on wax palm fruits for food. Pressure on wax palms for Palm Sunday observances is just one example of an ecological problem generated by this religious observance and some Christian groups have been working on more sustainable alternatives.
ProAves has done so in their colorful and inimitable fashion. Working with local people and church officials, read how their Reconcile With Nature campaign is fostering new attitudes toward nature and the nature of how we pray.