End of March, 2014, and I’ve never `blogged` before….
I hope to use this space to share thoughts and ideas around my passion – the natural environment in all its wonder – and my hope that we can encourage more people to engage with, learn about, and enjoy the natural environment more often. I’m not going to dwell here on my use of the word `natural`. I believe that our natural environment comes in many forms – protected landscapes such as national parks and nature reserves – farmland and coast – parks and woodlands in the middle of our towns and cities – gardens and allotments – green roofs and window boxes – all have a part to play.
I teach a seminar `What has nature ever done for us?` (this used to get a laugh – back when Monty Python’s Life of Brian was still well known), where my students discuss the benefits which the natural environment can bring to people and communities. Increasingly, academics and civil servants refer to these benefits as Ecosystem Services, and point to the financial value of these services to society more generally. A useful process if you are trying to persuade some politicians and agencies to protect and enhance natural capital, in the face of competing pressures and priorities. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity is a global initiative whose aim is to research, collate evidence and promote to governments, businesses and the public, the importance of protecting and enhancing natural systems. It is hugely important project.
But let us never lose sight of the instrinsic value of nature either – the awe and wonder which defies mere monetary value.
Another quote from the inspirational John Muir –
” Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
(John, Muir, Our National Parks, 1901).