A Focus On Nature

A Vision For Nature

Connecting with Nature – by Ed Marshall

Welcome to our series of blog posts in the run up to the general election (7th May 2015). Over this month AFON members will share their own Visions for Nature: what they want the natural world to look like by 2050 and how they want to get there. We have created a hashtag on Twitter so why not join the conversation? What’s your #VisionforNature?

What do I want the natural world to look like by the year 2050? It’s a tough question, and in my honest opinion one that I probably won’t do much justice throughout this post. If I had to give a straight forward answer I guess I’d have to say that by 2050, if the natural world looks no worse than it does today then I’d be pretty happy. It doesn’t take much effort to learn about how species are disappearing and habitat is being destroyed. Combine that with the fact that the global human population is spiralling rapidly upwards, placing more strain on our own resources such as food, space to live, and the natural world, then it looks to be a pretty bleak 35 years for anyone with high environmentally-centric hopes by the year 2050. My hope is that in the next 35 years, actions are taken by people with the powers that be, that prevent driving our dear Mother Earth any further into a state of complete disrepair, dragging the rest of us down with it. Alright, maybe that’s a bit on the pessimistic side, but you get the point.

As a wildlife photographer I feel I am quite privileged in that I get to experience what the natural world has to offer on a very personal level. I enjoy nothing more than watching little dramas unfold between the wildlife on a calm lake, or to take in a beautiful sunrise free from crowds of people. It’s this that I want to share with people, hence sharing my photography, but ironically I enjoy the fact that there is usually no one else there. It’s just me, my camera, and nature; but coming back to my vision of the natural world remaining as it is now, that relies on one very important thing. That people start giving a damn about it.

If you’ve kept up with this series of blogs, then there’s a pretty high chance you already are one of those that falls into the category of “giving a damn” so well done. You’ll probably have noticed from the previous blogs that there are a fair few others that also care, each being members and supporters of AFON who represent the next generation of conservationists. The problem here is that those who are voicing their concerns here are the next generation. We need the current, older, out-dated generation to start digging out the crap from their ears and start to listen. That green field you’ve just dug up, that peaceful woodland habitat you’ve just concreted over, that fantastic boggy wetland area you deemed worthy of a “modern, eco-friendly” residential estate, that’s my generations inheritance, now sod off and go build over something more suitable. Perhaps that delapidated building site over there? Hell, maybe that block of flats that’s sat empty for some time now could do with a renovation…oh right, you’ll just flatten them, ok…. This is actually what seems to have happened in Nottingham, the city where I studied at university for four years. Several high-rise flats are being brought to the ground, and will be replaced with under 200 homes. As unappealing to the eye as I find them, I fail to see how replacing them with fewer homes is a wise move in the current housing climate. There is a demand for places to live, so make the most out of the land that is available to do so instead of building far and wide with emphatic purpose.

Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, there is a lot of good being done in the world in terms of conservation and preserving the environment that so many of us enjoy. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend last summer (and will soon be spending this summer) working closely with the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust and the Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project, both documenting and helping them to carry out some of their conservation work on the Isles of Scilly that is all aimed at helping protect the wildlife and landscape of the islands. Having spent quite so long on an island has maybe put me a little out of touch with the way things are done on the mainland? People just don’t seem to care. That said, the vast majority of land on the Isles of Scilly has some sort of environmental designation. Whether its a SSSI, SPA, SAC, MCZ, AONB, or a Ramsar site you can almost be certain that it gains the benefits of protection under one of these designations. Maybe people would start to care a little more if they had more places with these designations on their doorstep? Maybe they would want to know why it’s worth protecting and start to care for their SSSI, for their Special Area of Conservation (SAC), their little piece of nature. It’s making it personal that counts, on a smaller scale.

Yes you have your world famous nature reserves and so on, but what happens when that nature reserve is the only refuge for wildlife in a vast sea of brick and mortar? Getting people to care about nature on a local scale, one that is more accessible and personal to those in the area and therefore protected by local people, will surely go a long way to ensuring that us young nature lovers actually have something left to enjoy when we’re older, no?

Ed Marshall is a natural history photographer based on the Isles of Scilly, thanks to an internship that was offered through AFON. Fortunate enough to work closely with the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust and Seabird Recovery Project documenting the conservation work they carry out to restore the beautiful landscapes and wildlife found in this corner of the UK. You can follow him on his facebook page Ed Marshall Wild Images, his twitter @edmarshallphoto, or his website www.edmarshallwildimages.co.uk.