Welcome to our 2015 Advent Calendar series (#AFONAdvent)! For each day in the lead-up to Christmas, we have a post from an A Focus On Nature member on this year’s Advent theme: “The Gift of Giving”. We hope that you enjoy the series and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Top Of The Naughty List
I think the theme of “the gift of giving” is perfect for this year’s AFON Advent guest blogs, especially when you think about the natural world and how much it gives to us. I could write endless blogs on the things that nature has giving me, but for this blog I want to focus on what can we give back to nature this Christmas, after all, there won’t be much true nature left if we don’t all start giving back.
Everything we have has been taken from the natural world, and quite frankly too many people just see the natural world as a resource; just there for when we want to use it, and not caring about the negative impacts we’re having.
Unfortunately nature can’t tell us what to do, but it certainly can tell us that it is in trouble and it is shouting this message loud and clear. Nature’s tears are building into the worst floods and storms ever seen, Nature’s silence can be heard, yes heard, in the baron waste lands we are leaving behind, Nature’s pain can be heard in the species slaughtered in the name of sport.
And you can see with your own eyes, close to home, that the problems are growing; the bee decline, the fact that only 6 pairs of Hen Harrier bred in England this year, the green belt land being lost to housing. Every time we chop down a tree, or build a house on a green field site, we don’t send a thank you card to nature, and I can certainly tell you that nature wouldn’t say “you’re welcome”! In fact, if nature was in charge of Christmas, you can bet that mankind would be at the top of the naughty list!
Of course there are the smokescreen give backs to nature like mitigation schemes, but I have seen for myself how these are just hollow promises to make sure company planning proposals get approved. And the things that are offered in return for taking from nature don’t consider how long it takes to rebuild a whole eco-system. If you chop down just one tree, you don’t just destroy a tree, you totally remove an important eco-system. All the bugs, birds, plants and animals that were dependent on that one tree suffer too.
So my theme for the gift of giving just has to be “giving back to nature”. Imagine what it would be like if every farmer installed hedgerows alongside fields or left a margin of crops for the wildlife. Imagine the impact that would have on farmland birds. Imagine what it would be like if every NGO volunteer managed to give at least one talk to a primary school. Imagine how many kids could be inspired to make a difference. Imagine what it would be like if all the roadside verges across the UK weren’t cut when all the plants are flowering. Imagine how much insects would benefit from all those wildflower corridors. Imagine if every Politian put nature at the heart of all their decisions, thinking 500 years ahead and not just 5 years ahead. Imagine that!
The above are just a few ways we can give back to nature on a big scale and when you think about what the natural world has given to us, it isn’t really a big ask.
But what does giving really mean. It’s not just about the material things we give to each other; it is about so much more than that. So to conclude, I want everyone to have a long hard think about everything nature has given us, or what we have taken, and just think where we would be without nature. Let’s all do nature a favour and give something back, even one small thing will make a difference.
Of course there are the quick and easy options like slipping a packet of wildflower seeds in with everyone’s presents, but what about all the non-material giving we can all do. Here are 5 things I think we could all do to give something back:
- Tell everyone you know about what is happening to the natural world. Even better, take them out and show them. Challenge them to write a guest blog about what they have seen, challenge them to take someone they know to go out and see what is happening.
- Volunteer your time to nature. There are so many ways to do this. Organise your own event for a start; a litter clean up maybe. Contact your local NGOs and see how you can help them.
- Report wildlife crime. No matter how small the crime, it’s wrong and we all need to speak up.
- Listen to nature and speak up to share the troubled message it is sending out. Write to MPs, challenge decisions being made.
- And finally, always remember it is not enough just to care, we have to take action. Be honest with yourself, are you really doing all you can.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”