Happy New Year! In the first week of this shiny new year, we are hearing from seven AFON members on their hopes and plans for 2016.
2015 was not the best year for environmentalism for me; despite applying for countless environmental jobs, none of them bore fruit and I was left feeling frustrated and a little disheartened. Here I was overflowing with determination, passion and knowledge and yet seemingly unable to even get my foot in the door where I could explore and exploit those traits. No matter – I feel ambitious for 2016.
I make lists for everything and my other lists of things to achieve this year are somewhat meagre compared to my conservation goals. First and foremost – wildlife. I was incredibly lucky whilst conservation volunteering in Iceland to see Sea Eagles. Not just a solitary adult either, but a healthy pair with two growing chicks. I cannot express how overwhelmed I felt in that moment and this year I want to see eagles on my home turf. I intend on venturing into Scotland to explore and hike its vast wilderness a lot more in 2016 and I will try my hardest to go hunting for a glimpse of an eagle – be it Golden or Sea Eagle, I’m really not fussy – anything to see those majestic birds again. On the subject of Birds of Prey – I am fortunate to be surrounded by them living in the North Pennines but two birds have so far eluded me: Merlins and Hen Harriers. I live a stone’s throw away from an RSPB reserve at Geltsdale and as I intend on volunteering with them on a weekly basis, I look forward to getting involved with Hen Harrier conservation as there are nests in the area and perhaps I will be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of this extremely rare bird. I don’t consider myself predominantly bird orientated but I have been lucky enough to tick off a lot of other mammalian species – I would like to see more red squirrels this year though! All I see is Grey Squirrels nowadays – very unsettling.
I intend on expanding my knowledge considerably this year and particularly in mycology; fungi have always fascinated me and although I certainly don’t plan on eating anything I find, (even if I do thoroughly brush up my identification skills) I would still like to be able to recognise the poisonous from the edible; the rare from the common. They are a brilliant subject to photograph as well and unfortunately the mild autumn we had in 2015 made it a poor season for fungi but I have my fingers crossed that next season will be better. I also intend to start meticulously memorising the Latin names of many flora and fauna. I am aware this is extremely ambitious but I intend to start “small” with trees and mammals and expand from there. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Ash trees in my area so that if I spot any evidence of Ash dieback, I can contact the relevant people and I shall continue to do so throughout 2016.
Regarding employment, I am not going to stop looking for a job in my degree field; I will not settle for anything but a job that allows me to explore my passion and my knowledge and pass that on to as many other people as possible in the hopes of encouraging environmental action and awareness. On that note, I will be establishing an environmental blog this year to do just that and plan to get as many of my fellow green warriors involved as I can.
As a knitter, I took steps towards the end of 2015 to push my currently modest Etsy selling my knits. My aim with my Etsy is not only to sell beautiful knitted products made with ethically sourced, local 100% wool but also to use it as an educational outlet; all my products come with a little information slip about various environmental issues from bees to palm oil to endangered species and so forth, with the hopes of sparking interest in my customers and encouraging them to take action. If I successfully manage to nudge someone towards planting bee friendly species in their garden or even just to look up the issues I’ll be discussing, that is a success in my eyes.
2015 was the year that sparked my interest in Vulture Culture; I have a modest collection of bones I have found and I intend to go hunting for more skulls and assorted bones I can treat and display in 2016 as it has become something of an addiction!
I am also in the process of organising to look after a couple of the RSPBs ‘Stepping up for Nature’ pin badge boxes. I look forward to fundraising for the RSPB and contributing towards this brilliant campaign.
Overall, I hope 2016 will bring more adventures, job prospects, more walks, more hikes, more photos, more knowledge, more sightings… more everything! I know in my heart that I will do everything I can this year to get back to Iceland as I miss that country every day. Happy new year everyone, I hope it’s a green and glorious one.