'Women of the Wild' | Interview with Yara for the Bushcraft & Survival Skills Magazine Issue Nov2017
Co-founder of the Bushcraft & Survival Skills Magazine Olivia Beardsmore interviews Survival Instructor Yara from Wildeye Adventures for the November 2017 issue on a feature called 'Women in the Wild'
How did you get into bushcraft?
It wasn’t until being abroad as a teenager did I get to experience bushcraft in it’s raw element. I was travelling alone in Indonesia and visited Siberut Island off the coast of Sumatra. Here I met clans of the Mentawai tribe, who are a remote hunter-gather community living in the rainforest.
I experienced survival and bushcraft through the eyes and livelihoods of the rainforest cultures there; it was a part of their way of life.
Their skills of the forest and self-sufficient way of life completely fascinated me.
I had come from a world where I was taught money is what I needed to survive but these communities were surviving on skills and knowledge alone.
Being in the rainforest awakened something inside and set me on a new path. I became interested in humans and their connection to the natural world, conservation and the survival skills of self-sufficient cultures living in natural environments.
I travelled to Borneo where spent time in the rainforest with the Kelabit and Penan communities. Spending time in the rainforests of South East Asia is where my skills in survival and bushcraft began developing and being put into practice.
Living off the land and learning from the cultures that depend on the rainforest for survival, they were the best teachers.
Since having these experiences over 15 years ago I have continued to practise and develop outdoors skills through personal self-interest, my passions, hobbies and outdoor work.
In the world of bushcraft and survival there is always something new to learn and indigenous cultures living in natural environments carry abundant knowledge.
What do you like to do, where do you go, travel alone or in groups?
I enjoy adventure travel, hiking, camping and exploring wild places of natural beauty. Woodlands and rainforests are my favourite environment to explore and I feel at home being amongst all the trees.
Whenever the opportunity arises, I travel either solo or with friends. Venturing on solo micro adventures allows time to rejuvenate and recharge, quiet time alone in woodlands is a great healer. It’s a content feeling camping comfortably out in nature. Sitting outside under the stars, next to a warm fire and listening to the night-time forest sounds.
The wildlife and heritage of this country is beautiful and I appreciate as much of it as I can. Half of the world’s bluebell population exists in Britain, there is unique wildlife and heritage here to be explored.
When I want to make a quick get away from the noises of the city, Epping Forest on the east side of London is a favourite place of mine. Many of the ancient beech trees in the UK exist there.
The Lake District is also one of my favourite spots to wild camp in. That’s the beauty of the outdoors there is always something new to discover where ever you may venture to.
Do you feel there are barriers as a women in the outdoor industry? How would you encourage women?
The only barriers are the ones you place on yourself. The bushcraft and survival industry maybe highly male dominated, but times are changing.
I have been questioned about being a female in the bushcraft industry but gender has never been an issue.
I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some very talented and skilled men. Everyone brings something different to the table within any team. Many of the men I have worked alongside have been welcoming and other’s intrigued by my choice of work.
It really comes down to what you see and believe in yourself.
If the outdoor industry is where your heart is, then continue to follow your interest by creating new experiences. You’ll connect with other people who are passionate about the same things and this can lead to new opportunities. Many of the opportunities in my life have come from the people I have crossed paths with and met in the most random places.
Stay positive, be friendly, keep open-minded and just continue doing the thing that you love.
Working with the Elite Survival Training team in Holland teaching survival skills in woodlands with schools
Any stories you wish to share?
Ten years ago I joined a conservation project in Tabin Wildlife Reserve helping to build an Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre. We were a large team of volunteers in the rainforest and were in record breaking tropical rainfall.
Villages were evacuated, bridges collapsed and we were transporting materials in and out of the jungle in daily tropical rain.
It was a tough experience and was labelled as “character building” at the time.
But it’s experiences like these that stay in the heart and the memories created last a lifetime.
Years later, we caught a glimpse of the orang-utan feeding platforms we had built on a National Geographic documentary. It was good to be aware that this project made a positive difference to wildlife in South East Asia.
Spending time in the Amazon rainforest and learning about medicinal plants was a memorable experience, I believe that there is biodiversity existing in the rainforest yet to be discovered, that indigenous cultures hold the key to.
We have a remaining 2% of ancient woodland left in the UK, once these landscapes have gone they are lost forever. The UK now has more ancient oaks in it than the whole of Europe put together and currently there is no legislation protecting our ancient woodlands and trees. The Woodland Trust the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity are helping to protect woodlands and trees by campaigning to give them rights they deserve.
It’s important to make time for the natural world.
Visit a local woodland, go to a beach, hike on some mountains, play in the park, go walking in a nice garden or whatever it maybe. Seek that place of peace that you can get when connect with and appreciating the outdoors.
It’s vital to keep a close relationship to nature, as it is one of our greatest teachers.