Watching the pure joy, excitement and look of awe on the faces of several children as eighty striped dolphins rode the surf generated from our ferry’s voyage toward Santander, Spain – for me, perfectly demonstrated the importance of nature for our wellbeing. Their curiosity of the natural world is truly wonderful to behold.
Whether it’s holding caterpillars in their hands, rolling in leaf-litter or digging earth to plant their first tree, whenever I’ve enjoyed times in nature with children and young people it always raises my spirits with hope for the future of our natural world.
Nature Health Therapy
Nature is widely recognised as excellent therapy and tonic for our health and wellbeing. Health services, doctors, teachers, mental health and wildlife charities, all increasingly value the importance of our connections to and relationship with nature. As an advocate of the many benefits nature provides – for our happiness, feeling invigorated and re-energised – it greatly concerns me that many people seem increasingly disconnected from our natural world.
Wildlife-watching, beach-combing, hiking mountains, moors and forests or simply snoozing under a majestic tree, all bring great pleasure for many of us. So, what else does nature do for us?
Life Support Systems
It provides all of our, and every species, essential life-support systems. These are Earth’s ecosystem services. They include the air we breathe, our food and water, plants for fuel, building and medicines, insects for crop pollination, reefs as flood defences, forests, peatlands and oceans for climate regulation and carbon storage. Together these ecological assets comprise Earth’s Natural Capital. A term first used in 1973 by the economist E. F. Schumacher in his book: Small Is Beautiful.
Whilst I believe nature should be valued as priceless, it’s definitely not valueless. We urgently need to learn the true value of nature. We’re living through an existential crisis and critically important decade, with time increasingly against us, in which we have an obligation to mitigate climate change, the effects of global warming; to restore ecosystems, conserve biodiversity and rewild our beautiful, but sadly abused and under valued planet. Natural Capital supports delivering these.
I’ve long held the opinion that we take nature for granted. We continue to not care about or recognise the vital importance of the financial value of our essential ecosystem services. In the UK alone, nature provides an estimated £1.5 trillion worth of eco-services, for free, according to Tony Juniper’s excellent book: What Nature Does For Britain (2015).
UK – Most Nature Depleted of G7 Nations
In the UK, taking nature for granted is shamefully something we’re good at, as superbly demonstrated with the recognition that we’re one of the world’s most nature depleted countries. New data from the Natural History Museum shows Britain has lost 47% of its biodiversity, far below the global average of 75%. Among G7 nations we’re last and globally the UK is in the bottom 10%. With 90% biodiversity being considered the minimum safe limit to prevent the world going into ecological meltdown – this should shock us all into to taking immediate action.
Although we must look to new technologies and innovations to resolve the climate crisis – in many cases through younger, and future, generations entrepreneurial nature - it's the recovery, restoration and rewilding of our ecosystems that will safeguard our Natural Capital, conserve and increase biodiversity, and most effectively store carbon. Rewilding Europe is taking the lead with making Europe a wilder place through its rewilding initiatives and nature based economies.
With 13.2% of the UK covered in native woodland, of which 2.5% is considered ancient, only half our woods are considered to be in good ecological condition, we’ve much to learn from countries like Costa Rica. Winner of the Duke of Cambridgeshire’s first Earthshot Prize (2021) to protect and restore nature, by the 1990s Costa Rica had cleared most of its forests. However, by paying its citizens Costa Rica has restored 60% of its rainforest and natural ecosystems.
During COP26 we are reminded to save nature
In November 2021 the UK Government is hosting COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. As rewilding continues to gain momentum throughout the UK and globally – now has to be the time to commit all countries to agree a minimum 35% of their land to be conserved for nature.
On behalf of EarthWild Partnership, I propose no further deforestation of the Amazon, Congo and Asian rainforests and at least 50% of marine ecosystems to be protected. If this is achieved by 2030, I believe the 1.5C climate target can be met, our future will be greener and we’ll have re-learnt to live in better harmony and partnership with nature.
With Earth’s climate increasingly out-of-balance and daily media reports of catastrophic forest fires, floods, violent storms and wholescale destruction of habitats and biodiversity – our governments, farmers, business and industry, communities and us as individuals have this 9-to-10-year opportunity to deliver a greener, sustainable Earth for our children of the future.
Now is the time to rewild Earth and to rewild humanity.
About the guest writer - Gary Roberts (Director/Founder of EarthWild)
With a passionate interest in our natural world, Gary Roberts has enjoyed a 35-years career connected with nature, biodiversity conservation, rewilding, sustainability, environmental and international issues.
Gary is Director/Founder of EarthWild Partnership Ltd email and Treasurer of the charity People Need Nature. The words in this article represent his own personal view.
Earthwild Partnership is an innovative, creative communications, sustainability and management company. Founded in January 2020, Earthwild is designed to provide a diverse portfolio of tailored services to companies, businesses, social enterprises, charities and other organisations. Safeguarding our natural world, the conservation of our global biodiversity and climate-change mitigation are at the heart of Earthwild's philosophy: ‘To Create Investments In Nature To Deliver Solutions Which Benefit Our Natural World By Helping Organisations
It's 'A Vision For Life'. A long-term investment to ensure Earthwild's brand evolves and grows through the delivery of solutions beneficial to a greener, wilder earth. We are working toward a carbon-net zero policy, as well as developing our plans to support habitat restoration, rewilding and conservation. To date, Earthwild has sequestered 15.66 tonnes of carbon and grown its ‘global forest’ to 316 trees planted in Madagascar, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Scotland.
Contact Gary at EarthWild Partnership via email at email@example.com)