A Focus On Nature

A Vision For Nature

Don’t Let Nature Hide in Plain Sight – by Jack Bedford

Welcome to our series of blog posts in the run up (originally) 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. Despite the election being over, we have decided to continue the series as more posts keep arriving from our members! We have created a hashtag on Twitter so why not join the conversation? What’s your #VisionforNature?

When talking about wildlife, the environment and general green issues, I am astounded by the apathy that many have for the cause. On top of this, many seem to have little knowledge of what’s going on in their countryside. I have just finished my degree in Zoology at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus, and I can honestly say the amount I have learnt about our planet in that time has been enormous! But, as much as I learnt during the degree, the extracurricular activities I got involved in really opened my eyes to the wonders of our British countryside.

I suspect many people’s love of wildlife started in a similar fashion to mine. My earliest memory involving animals is sitting in my living room playing with a jigsaw puzzle showing a map of the world, and in each country, an animal would appear. I vividly remember the tigers and elephants and how excited I was about these fantastic creatures. My love for the natural world continued to be nurtured through documentaries, but there was a crucial piece of my personal wildlife puzzle missing: I wasn’t really engaged with the plants and animals on my doorstep.

This slowly started to change as I got older, when I started volunteering with the wildlife trusts and had a better idea of my career aims. At university, I uncovered my passion. At the beginning of my first year, I became a committee member for a student society called EcoSoc. It was here that my education in British wildlife truly began! Alongside arranging conservation events (I am now a dab hand at beach and stream clean organising!), I checked out the ‘ID for Idiots’ series. I discovered a dormant love for our native flora, perhaps because plants don’t really move and I could sit and stare for an hour if I wanted, in search of the plants elusive name! Moth trapping was another discovery; I would never have thought moths could be so fantastic and diverse before approaching the traps early one morning to find the incredible bounties within.

It occurs to me that for many, nature hides in plain sight. It’s there, but we miss it, wrapped up in what’s happening in our human world. Is it any wonder that this is the case? It took me around 20 years to begin fully appreciating the ecosystems we are a part of, and I was actively seeking to increase my knowledge from a place of love for nature.

That’s simply not good enough. The problems facing the natural world require us as a species to work together, not only to benefit wildlife, but ourselves. Kids should get outdoors more, and so too should adults. Since finishing my degree, I have taken it upon myself to explore the Cornish coastline. I am writing this post after a day spent at the stunning Kynance Cove. After a good few hours of rambling along the coastal path, I realised how much I have missed out on experiencing nature. It just makes you feel great. Everyone should get out there and explore, and think about our world, and what it means to you.

My vision for nature is more people connecting to the natural world. I don’t expect everyone to want to be conservationists, but by having that connection, you understand the intrinsic value of nature, and why it’s important to protect it. There are so many problems we need to find solutions for, and that old adage ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ comes to mind. Getting engaged with and learning more about wildlife is good for you and for the planet. So go out into the wilderness, and explore!

Jack Bedford has just finished a degree in Zoology at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus, and is aiming to build a career as a conservationist whilst continuing to learn about the natural world as longs as he lives. You can follow him on Twitter at: @JackFBedford