A Focus On Nature

A Vision For Nature

A Vision For Nature? It is just not enough anymore – by Stephen LeQuesne

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?

You know, I have no idea how to start this blog, to set up how I feel and what I think about the future of the environment and our amazing wildlife. The aim with this piece of writing is to talk about my ‘Vision for Nature’, what I see for the future and where we should be in years to come.


The future is something I think about a lot, probably too much, but it is a huge part of my thinking process, something that never leaves my mind as I want a better world for everyone. So, what is my vision for nature? What is my vision for the future of nature and its conservation? Well… we need drastic changes, we need them fast, we need to stop talking and we need a vision for society, not just for nature, a vision for everyone.  What I am going to describe below is going to be honest to the core, but hopefully fair, as we needed change yesterday.

So what needs to happen? We must strive towards what I see as a vision for society, a vision where as environmentalists and conservationists, we include everyone and reach out to everyone, embrace people and the link between society and the natural world. It is not enough to just save species anymore, we have to radically change direction and bring communities and politics closer to the natural world.  One huge stride that has been taken lately is the campaign by many of our UK wildlife charities to establish a Nature and Wellbeing Act, which I personally think is the most important and urgent issue, more important than species conservation or habitat protection. A Nature and Wellbeing Act is one piece of the long-term jigsaw, a vital step. However, the general public have not really been energised by this idea like they should be, and that is a consequence of one of the problems that really stands in the way of my ‘Vision for Nature’.

The problem is that the environmental movement has a massive PR problem, for a number of different reasons, one of these is that we are terrible and communicating and engaging with society. Lets be honest, we suck at truly bringing people together and creating a movement that people trust and relate to. What is compounds this is that I see many professionals and conservationists patting each other on the back, saying well done, putting their heads in the sand and I am a bit sick of it, because in the end it is wildlife and people that suffer.

I have been lucky and unlucky enough to see conservation on the front line and it really is a war, a war for the health and future of the planet, a war for money, for short term gain. The real priorities need to be education and the front line. The front line where people sacrifice their lives every day, where Orangutans, Elephants and Rhinos are slaughtered in huge numbers on a daily basis, and at the moment is passes too many of us by. A recent report published by Global Witness states that on average 2 environmental activists are being killed every week, and in my eyes, just for trying to do the right thing.

It is not all bad though, and people such as Chris Packham and Mark Avery, are challenging conceptions, challenging the rules and not being comfortable with their achievements always moving on with the next challenge. There is also the very special Jess Mckelson and Dr. Ian Singleton who work in Sumatra and battle all aspects of corruption, lack of support, lack of funding and lack of resources to try and save the Sumatran Orangutan, yet who has really heard of them? Not enough people, that is for sure.

The thing is, a Vision for Nature is not enough anymore, it is not enough for me, for you, for my future children (if I have any) and for our wildlife. Our planet is literally dying, and that is not an exaggeration. According to a report published by WWF, we have lost 52% of all life on earth in the past 40 years. How crazy is that statistic!

But this should not be depressing, because it means we have the power to change the world, to change the course of human history ands this is what a ‘Vision for Nature’ needs to be, it needs to change society, change how we think and live our lives, enabling us to be happier and healthier.

It breaks my heart every day when I see what are doing to our environment, how we depend on it for our health and wellbeing, for clean water, for food, for a functioning economy, for long-term prosperity and yet we build, destroy, burn. We drop dump rubbish in landfills, chuck plastics into the sea and in the end we are the ones that do and will suffer.

A vision for nature needs to be the starting point, the starting point where conservationists integrate better into society, where people trust us, where wildlife charities look up and assess where they are going. Mostly everyone who works with and for wildlife care as much about people as they do about wildlife, but this is not the prevailing opinion in society and if we want a future for our wildlife this is what we need to focus on.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Stephen LeQuesne is a naturalist, filmmaker and Forest School leader. You can follow him on Twitter at: @SLeQuesne