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Nature is Wonderful

July 5, 2012

Anyone who has been watching Chris Packham’s most recent TV programme on the connections between plants and animals will be as fascinated as I am by the amazing and bizarre links that create our ecosystems, and staggered afresh by our ignorance in destroying habitats that we have barely begun to understand.

I don’t know who labelled our species ‘Homo Sapiens’ – but I don’t think that we behave with much wisdom most of the time. Like all the rest of the animal kingdom, we simply live to survive to the next moment, with no real and wise thought for the consequences of anything.

We cut down a forest to build something that is not essential, put roads through pristine wilderness, pollute the oceans with our rubbish, scatter our litter everywhere, fill holes in the ground with our unrottable garbage, chuck greenhouse gases and serious pollutants into the atmosphere and spray our food crops with all manner of biocides.

Is this wisdom or lunacy?

Today I was in a meeting about the management of a small local park. There is a pond in there -newly created a couple of years ago with volunteer labour, a project started by myself to provide habitat for native amphibians which are in decline through the draining of wetlands. Around the pond area, we have been allowed by the local Council to leave some of the grass uncut so that wild plants may set seed and small creatures leaving the water may have somewhere to hide from predators. The insects that need our wild plants which many disparage  as ‘weeds’ are thriving there, and they, of course are food for the bats and frogs.

The many different grass heads are a joy to behold as they wave in  the breeze, and plants whose flowers we seldom see because they are cut down relentlessly in lawns and verges, are growing well.

I am particularly impressed with the statuesque thistles which will look more magnificent still when their purple flowers open and attract the bees.

All of this diversity and beauty, however, to a few park users, is  ‘untidy’ and unsightly’ and there are people who want it all mown down. I could weep sometimes at our stupidity and short sightedness.

The outdoors is not a room in a house and the grass is not a carpet. Nature is not tidy, but a riot of colour, shape and forms, each one amazing and glorious. Why can we not allow wildness alongside us and celebrate it? What use are manicured lawns, fences, paving and decking to wildlife?

Does it matter if we destroy a  myriad small creatures, hardly noticing they were there and never giving them a moment’s thought in our greed for more land and a view that pleases us and gardens that are perfect showcases, like paintings instead of living landscapes? 

Does it matter that a small bird cannot feed its young because the bush or tree that harbours the caterpillars it needs has been removed to make space for a trampoline? Does it matter that the hedgehog cannot forage for snails because it cannot pass through the solid fence to the next garden? Does it matter that our pet cats harass the fledglings and kill endangered mammals? Does it matter that we flatten countless wild creatures on our busy roads? Does it matter that a patch of scrub that was home to many butterflies is grubbed up for a leisure centre? 

All these things matter greatly to me. With each loss, a piece of the beautiful jigsaw of the natural world goes missing. There are so many gaps in that picture now, some irretrievably lost. And still the relentless destruction of the remainder goes on.

All of our large mammals are now in peril, because we will not make room for them, or we kill them for their body parts to feed our greed for some product or  for more money. We are asking the earth to carry on sustaining us whilst we disable all its ecosystems and blunder carelessly across the globe, treading treasures into oblivion.

I hear the birdsong in the mornings and wonder if there will come a time when the treetops are silent. I see the canopy of a beautiful oak tree and cannot help ponder its future in a town or suburb where large trees are considered unsafe. I remember the summers of my childhood that buzzed with bees and now are bereft of that  once taken for granted hum. I look out on fences where there should be hedges and concrete where there could be flowers, and I ask – what is wrong with us that we cannot see what we are doing?

Nature is wonderful, exquisite and fragile. I love it all and am ashamed at what so many of my species are doing to it. We just do not know what the ramifications will be of the disappearance of even a tiny bug, and, in my view, it is eco crime to drive any species to extinction.

Many years ago I lost my faith in the existence of God, but it never ceases to amaze me that many who will tell me that God created all this wonder, will think nothing of despoiling it in a myriad small ways, as if this is trivial. To me it seems like sacrilege to disable  the biosphere in this reckless fashion.

Nature is wonderful. I hope with all my heart that we will all wake up soon and recognise it for the precious jewel that it is.

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One Comment
  1. It can be very disheartening sometimes to contemplate our wanton destruction of the environment.What we do to the environment we ultimately do to ourselves……there is no separation.Hopefully we will get the message before it is too late;although the earth will rebalance herself regardless of our actions.But I do believe that we are supposed to be working in harmony with the whole rather than against it.Perhaps the recovery of the sacredness of all life is the greatest challenge of our time.Blessings to you!

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