As ecologists today we often find ourselves in some strange and remote places whether; under a bridge over fast flowing water on a suspended platform, in a confined space with escape sets, out on an open hill watching for birds or roped to a tree for an aerial inspection and in search of bats or their roosts. Sometimes we’re up to our thighs in water or mud and often can be seen crawling through vegetation on the lookout for evidence of otters, watervoles, badgers and pine marten or more often their tell tails signs of spraint or scat. Not always pleasant but it can be exciting with the prospect of gaining an insight into the hidden world of our wild creatures.
As a more mature member of the ecology fraternity these field surveys often take me back to my childhood when I was an ‘explorer’ out in the countryside on the fringes of Glasgow. Packed off in the morning we were not expected back before the rally cry for dinner was heard in the early evening. Guddling in rivers and ponds, climbing trees and wandering over miles of countryside, often aimlessly, was my entertainment in the evenings, at weekends and holidays. Much has changed in the many intervening years with our own children and not all for the better.
I was reminded of these childhood adventures recently with a number of commentators talking about our present disconnection from nature and our increasingly urban and consumer driven lifestyles and apparent powerless and disconnected condition (https://open.spotify.com/episode/5SvW02RRFLlFsLq8l1hnTB?si=8znog5xXTqS5jk-iuooYQA). This apparent ‘disconnection' is it seems at the core of the many ills of climate change and loss of biodiversity that confront us at every turn.
Whether your skeptical or not about these realities, the growing awareness amongst younger people now spearheaded by Greta Thunberg is gathering a head of steam. This is surely to be welcomed if it leads to change, raises awareness of our impacts and leads to better prospects for people and nature.
So, here’s my prescription for a better and more diverse future – turn off the telly, unplug the console, disconnect the Wi-Fi, leave the phone at home and get outdoors and explore. It’s a habit that will help to reconnect us and more importantly our children with nature, its diverse species and habitats. This can only lead to a better appreciation of its value and improve the prospects for its protection. It may even help to slow up or draw a halt to its early demise.