Caroline Lucas, speaking at the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2019 this week, criticised the Agriculture Bill at present going through parliament as lacking in firm provisions relating to farmland nature: little on environmental regulation post-Brexit, and nothing on public health. But evidence is accumulating that a robust and accessible natural environment is essential for human mental and physical health. The deterioration of the environment affects the most vulnerable people; children are growing up in ignorance of the joys of wild nature. We forget we are part of creation; humans are just one branch on the tree of life. For us, nature is not a luxury, not just a week-end destination, but a necessity for health and happiness; to be cut off from nature is sensory deprivation.
Most of my life has involved nature as my adventure. I ask myself why. My connection with non-human lives has been a constant ember within me, aside only during a period of traumatic bereavement, another story. I acknowledge this bond was securely founded in early childhood.
I think it came in two main parts.
Firstly, I was fortunate to live, play and imagine among nature with effortless ease, growing up in a particularly biodiverse corner of North Herefordshire. It was a hamlet of a few houses dotted around a hill, but mostly of woods, streams, tracks and open common land. Read more
From a presentation given for New Networks for Nature’s ‘Nature Matters’ event in Stamford, England, November 2015
For more than twenty years I have lived by the sea in Scotland. My children have grown up with otters as their neighbours and, more recently, with re-introduced white tailed eagles too. They’re as pleased to see them as when they bump into their friends, which is just as it should be. It’s a place we feel we belong.
To walk on that shoreline is to play back some of our own history: one rock makes me smile at the memory of a picnic we had there, when my daughter found a long heron’s feather and put it in her hair. In another place I stand again where I once did at midnight, after heavy snow, entranced by the full moon that lit up the land as far as I could see. Read more
Nature is full of surprises! You never know quite what you are going to see in your garden or local patch. It may be a beautiful orange-tip butterfly laying its eggs in spring on cuckoo flower; a hedgehog at dusk on a summer’s evening, the sighting of a vibrant blue kingfisher in your local stream, or an overwintering redwing or fieldfare feeding on berries. Read more