It’s World Environment Day 2021. Over the past year it’s been wonderful to see the huge numbers of people who have turned to nature for solice during lockdown.
The thought that so many are (re)discovering the value of nature has led many in the nature conservation sector to believe that the change that we so need is coming; that if enough of us value nature it follows that biodiversity conservation will move up the political agenda, enabling us to reverse declines in global biodiversity loss.
A problemed relationship with nature
However, I see a big problem. Our relationship with nature is currently very much one directional, with the emphasis seemingly being on the human benefit. The current interest in going into nature to improve our mental health, on forest bathing, foraging, bee keeping and growing our own food are all wonderful, however is it just me or are all these things a form of taking?
On my wildflower meadow workshops I always feel such dismay when people talk about their own requirements of the meadow, that they want to see pretty flowers, bright colours and lots of wildlife, or they want to install a bee hive and keep bees. Or when people come and visit my meadow and ask what the plants can be used for.
When I run botanical identification courses, after learning about a plants ecology they may ask ‘but what does it do?’. It seems that unless we can eat it, use it for medicinally, relax/destress in it or appreciate its beauty, we’re not really that interested.
I really hope that the next stage in environmental awareness moves us away from this one- way relationship to one where we start to give back. One where we are happy to create and conserve habitats and species that are of no real value to humans, but enable nature to thrive for its own sake. After all, the most valuable habitat for wildlife is one with few if any humans in it at all.
Our ‘giving back’ attitude at Seilich
This giving back attitude lies at the heart of Seilich, with an acre of wildflower meadow set aside for nature conservation. I hope to change attitudes in the beauty sector away from simply taking from nature for commercial gain, towards a two way relationship of taking and giving back, leaving nature in a better place than we found it.