The foundation stone for Gaia Protection was laid by Siegfried Ramming in Costa Rica. Siegfried Ramming was born in 1966 in Bayreuth, but bought a farm in the mountains of Costa Rica at the age of 21. Siegfried tried to use renewable resources such as water, soil, forest and marine life so carefully that they would be preserved for future generations and the ecological systems would be stable.
His aim was to enable the development of nature-related, general environmental awareness and the appreciation of biodiversity.
On his farm, he realized one of his first environmental projects: a successful ecological passion fruit plantation in the middle of the mountain forests, an example of natural, organic agriculture combined with active protection of the surrounding oak forest.
At that time, the rural city of flight prevailed in Central America, where many farmers sold their land for a very low price. Frequently, the precious rainforest on these properties was cleared and used as grazing land for livestock. In the worst cases, settlements were built that were not environmentally compatible with the biodiversity of this country.
Siegfried’s long-term vision was to provide the land around national parks to environmentally conscious investors who could see the land as a bioreservoir and thus protect flora and fauna. In this way, it was possible to demand long-term legal obligations on the part of the state by purchasing new land to the national park and thus guarantee the protection of forest areas against the misuse of its natural resources. The deforestation of the rainforest, the exploitation of flora and fauna and the expansion of livestock breeding and conventional agriculture were widespread.
As a result of this vision, he founded the private foundation Gaia Protection in 2002 together with a network of various freelancers, artists, organic farmers, electricians, lawyers, politicians and conservationists, who all wanted to “preserve, maintain, ecologically use and restore the last tropical rainforests on earth”.
One of Gaia Protection’s largest projects was the “Finca Libaja”, which covered an area of 1150 hectares and directly adjoined one of Costa Rica’s most important national parks.
Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world’s species and the region of this finca is home to the nation’s greatest biodiversity. Although the property was already registered as a forest reserve at that time, this should say little about the corrupt politics and social circumstances at that time. For this reason, it was extremely important to find an investor who could establish a clear ownership structure by purchasing these lands.
At that time the singer Sting of the band the Police was very interested in environmental activism and showed interest in buying the “Finca Libaja” and thus guaranteeing the preservation of the rainforest. But one week before Siegfried was to meet with a mediator of the singer, Siegfried died in a traffic accident at the age of 36.
Unfortunately, his death also marked the end of the Gaia Protection initiative, as his loss meant that the entire network lost its leading power to successfully complete ongoing projects and develop future ones.
When his daughter Lila Behr, aged 17, realized for the first time the contribution her father had made to the conservation of our natural resources, she decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and bring his vision back to life.
“Already as a young girl I had the luck to get to know many countries, customs and different cultures together with my mother. It became clear to me early on that there are great injustices and irresponsible ways of dealing with our natural resources. It was during my first trip without a family to Indonesia, where I had one of the most drastic experiences of my life so far.”
An eternally long bay in which all the garbage from the sea had accumulated. Plastic from all over the world. I became so sad, so angry and disappointed at the same time. As shocked as I was about the consumer behaviour of mankind, I became aware of one thing: I too contribute to this unbearable state with my behaviour. From that moment on I knew that I could not travel happily as one of millions of tourists. Tourists who post beautiful pictures of white, paradisiacal beaches on social media and thus support an illusory image. Because in reality the state of our earth is worrying. The world is suffocating in our garbage and the consciousness of many of our citizens is paralyzed by poverty and famine.