Simon is a conservationist, wildlife photographer and passionate naturalist. He currently works for the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (views his own) and spends as much of his free time out on nature reserves around the country photographing any wildlife he can find. To follow more of his writing you can follow him on Twitter: @wildlifephelps
Four days ago, on Saturday the 6th of September, in Cambridge, the inaugural Vision for Nature conference ended. At the same time something else, something powerful, something organic began: the youth conservation movement. This date will go down in the history of conservation in this country as the day when young people stood up to be counted; change is coming.
I won’t go through it all in great detail, much has already been said on the blogosphere (not sure I’m comfortable with that term?!) by the many fantastic A Focus On Nature (AFON) members who attended. Eloquent and evocative blogs by Alex Berryman, Megan Shersby and Beth Aucott give you a flavour of the inspiring nature of the event. It even made it into The Independent newspaper!
A feeling has been growing in me for a while, a feeling that has come to the fore since I became more active within AFON. Over the last few years working in the conservation sector, as well as reading more and more about the downward course that wildlife seems perilously stuck on, I have felt as though not enough is being done. The conservation movement seems to be treading water (and only just about keeping its head above water for that matter). Yet with one fell swoop this conference showed me that we here at AFON won’t settle for this, we will be swimming hard against the current, fighting to create a better world for our beleaguered wildlife to thrive in.
Like Megan I too was also listening to music whilst driving back home through the East Anglian fens (though not Bonnie Tyler!). I was reminded of a lyric that I have always believed in:
“Don’t be fooled into thinking that a small group of friends cannot change the world”
From ‘Pack of Thieves’ by Enter Shikari (quite different to Bonnie Tyler!), this puts into words perfectly how I feel after this experience. I met so many talented, inspiring and brilliant people at the conference, and made new friends. Friends that I am excited to work with. That is what A Focus On Nature is, a group of young friends, who will, I genuinely believe, change the world.