A Focus On Nature

A Vision For Nature

My Vision For Nature – by Amy Robjohns

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?

Those care free moments on my patch where you can temporally escape the stresses and strains of modern life. Be it sitting in a hide watching the everyday life of a black-headed gull colony, chatting to other naturalists, sitting on the beach by the turnstones,  looking out to sea or standing in the field marvelling at the Mediterranean gulls or hirundies flying overhead, it’s birding that keeps me going. They say nature is essential for health and mental wellbeing. They’re not wrong – being outside, surrounded by nature is one of the moments when I’m happiest. (Of course, good friends, family and other hobbies help too.)

I’m lucky enough to have grown up in the suburbs of Fareham, close to a large amount of land saved from development by the County Council. It includes a number of nature reserves (including my patch Titchfield Haven), and also farmland. Additional private land adds to this welcoming break from the urban sprawl. It’s comforting to think that a few special areas are safe from the ever increasing urbanisation of the south; a realisation that growth can’t continue for eternity. A realisation that once it’s gone it’s gone. Forever. Sadly, this land isn’t all safe. Meeting the coast means suffering from rising sea levels, other effects of climate change, and weathering with the Solent Way shifting north. It’s like nature is being squashed into an ever decreasing tight corner it can’t escape from.

Amy's patch

My vision for nature is a world where, even in the busy urban areas, people can find refuge and freedom from modern life. A world where you can stop and smile, appreciating the natural world around you. A world where we make space for nature and benefit greatly from doing so. A world where we stop and think, and reduce our consumption and waste. A world with a circular economy, perhaps. A world where politicians recognise this, and all of society works hard to achieve it. A world where politicians talk about the environment as often and passionately as they talk about money, and other issues. And on a more personal level, my vision is to continue the good work of conservationists, and help maintain the Solent’s coastal and wetland escapes (as well as the other habitats).

I’m confident that with careful planning and initiative, a modern world can be created in which both people and nature can thrive. I wouldn’t say we’re there yet, but the good work of conservationists, and the ever improving Environmental Impact Assessment is leading us in the right direction. The ever increasing awareness too, is helping somewhat.

There is a chance, however, that this and other such visions may never be realised. But there is hope that change will come about before it’s too late. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. We don’t want a silent spring to make us regret business as usual, nor do we want to suddenly think “Remember when we had…”. Nor do we want to destroy land previously designated for good reasons. Nature reserves, SPAs, SACs, SSSIs, Ramsar sites all have a purpose. That purpose is not development.

We have the power to save what we have left and do our best to improve things for us and wildlife. We are, after all, not alone in this world. We depend very much upon these other beings (see Tony Jupiter’s fantastic books). Once it’s gone, it’s gone but if we work hard, the disappearance of a species we took for granted may not be an issue we’ll have to content with. We don’t want to lose it, do we?

Amy Robjohns is a birder and bird ringer from Hampshire studying for a Masters in Environmental Science at the University of Southampton. You can follow her on twitter: @amythebirder or visit her blog at: https://birdingaroundhampshire.wordpress.com/