Taking Action for Nature – The BNHC Debate

Wherever you turn we are being bombarded with messages that our world is in crisis. Bristol was the first UK authority to declare a climate emergency, and last month declared an ecological emergency over the decline of local wildlife. With this emotive language it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the issues of human-induced climate change and powerless to prevent it, so much so that many are now living with the chronic fear of environmental doom known as ‘eco-anxiety’.

The best way to tackle any fear is to take action, which is exactly what the Bristol Natural History Consortium proposed at last year’s Festival of Nature where they suggested four simple Actions for Nature to help their visitors make a difference:

  1. TAKE LESS for Nature by consuming less and avoiding waste
  2. CHOOSE BETTER for Nature by switching to sustainable products and providers
  3. DEMAND MORE for Nature by speaking up to policy makers and organisations
  4. GIVE BACK to Nature through volunteering, creating green spaces and supporting charities

Last month, the BNHC held an Action for Nature Debate, inviting four organisations to share their inspirational project, stories and visions with the audience and spark debate on how to best take action.

We first heard from Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, science communicator for the ClairCity project, a four-year project across six cities in Europe aiming to understand collective behaviour and work towards cleaner air for all. As part of her research Dr Fogg-Rogers felt that pull of ‘what more can I do’ and discussed how we all have several roles where we can take individual action, for example as a mother setting up a school environmental group or as a local community member attending and speaking at local meeting.

Next we heard the business perspective from Michelle Davies, Head of Strategy at Bristol Water. Michelle challenged business to go beyond CSR with four principles:

  1. Do it with purpose – Embed sustainable action into your business vision and purpose.
  2. Power to the people – Empower your employees to be part of the change, through volunteer days and ownership of environmental targets that can be built into their objectives.
  3. “Whenever you can, count” – Bristol Water developed a Biodiversity Index to measure the biodiversity of sites they work on and ensure they have a positive impact once the work is complete. They set ambitious targets to meet, sharing with external regulators, with financial impact should they fail to hit them.
  4. Collaborate to amplify – As a business we can all have a bigger impact by sharing best practices and inspiring change across our sector.

Zion Lights, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion UK spoke of inspiring stories across the country of individuals and groups speaking up against a broken system with a key message that change is possible and is happening, and challenged us all to rebel a little.

Our final speaker was George Cook, Communications and Engagement Officer at the Avon Wildlife Trust. The University of Derby Nature Connectedness Research Group recently evaluated the validity of the new Nature Connection Index, a method measuring connection with nature across both children and adults nationally. Their results show a clear adolescent dip in connection with nature between ages 10 to 30, with a significant dip ages 13-18, a key time for developing self-identity where perhaps nature loses its importance and relevance. George is part of the Wildlife Trust’s Our Bright Future team aiming to prevent this adolescent dip by helping young people aged 11-24 reconnect with nature through gaining new skills and experiences and empowering them to lead future environmental change.

Source: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/12/3250/htm

The BNHC consists of 13 organisations shown below with the aim to engage people with the natural world through collaborative action. If you’re a young adult based in the Bristol and Bath area and would like to see more action for nature, why not head along to the Bristol Nature Network & Festival of Nature Volunteer Relaunch later this month.

By Sam Hadfield, Systems Consultant at SustainIt Solutions

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