Stephen is naturalist, filmmaker and educator who has a Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology who comes from the island of Jersey. He is a passionate conservationist who has previously worked to help protect Cheetahs in Namibia, study Meerkats in South Africa, as well as attend the Wildlife Film Academy in Botswana, where he started his wildlife-filming journey. Closer to home, he has just finished a 3 year stint as a Wildlife Education Officer for the National Trust.
Happy New Year to you all! I hope everyone is well and ready for 2014.
Over the past few weeks, I have been going through in my mind what to write for this post. Now that I have my depression under control and I am in a good place, my mind has been freed to wander, think and challenge most concepts regarding wildlife conservation. You see, the default setting in my mind always has been and always will be, wildlife.
The initial plan was to expand on an original post I wrote about engaging with the general public, an issue, which I feels is our most important (see here): http://journalofaconservationist.blogspot.com/2013/11/conservation-mainstream.html).
The year of 2013 did nothing to sway this opinion and there is no doubt in my mind that this was the year when governments all over the world turned their back on the environment. From the badger cull in the UK, which went against all scientific evidence, to the new Australian government deciding to dump silt on the Great Barrier Reef to increase coal exports, the environment was once again stamped on for money and the benefit of a few. There were also the UN climate talks in Poland, which once again ended in a weird stalemate where everyone agreed to do something, sometime in the future, when they have a little more free time I suppose. Remember when Climate Change was the most important issue for our society? It still is, we are just ignoring it as our economies are in trouble, even though healthy planet = health economy.
I am saying all of these things because as we enter 2014, I have finally concluded that we cannot rely on our governments to do the right thing and protect the planet we live on. I am not saying politicians are bad people, I just think they have too little knowledge of how our planet works and too many influences from all other angles, so in the end our natural world just gets pushed to the side.
The one headline of 2013 that really brings this home is this one, this is the influence of the other side. (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/20/conservative-groups-1bn-against-climate-change). Yes you did read that correctly, $1 billion has been spent to fight the battle against…well the truth and scientific fact. Imagine how many jobs this money could support? How much poverty it could tackle? Mind blowing…
So what do we do? Give up? Sob? Hide away? No! Far from it, as a matter of fact it is time that we dug our heels into the ground. I have had enough of governments doing nothing and we are running out of time. You see, this blog post is a call to arms for 2014, a call for 2014 to be the year of the naturalist, because if our governments refuse to notice that we need a healthy planet to live on, then it is up to all of us, young and old, to educate, communicate, engage and inspire.
Therefore, if you are reading this and you love the natural world then 2014 is your year. It is the year for you to stand up, challenge perceptions educate people, engage with communities, inspire children and be a shining light.
If the change we all need is not going to come from the top, then it sure as hell going to come from the bottom, from the people with passion, determination and a desire to do good things. Life on this planet needs us; it needs more Attenborough’s, Backshall’s, Irwin’s and Durrell’s. It needs you.
P.S. And to get you started here are 10 hopeful things that happened in 2013
Maybe it was not so bad after all…