Spring is in the air and it’s that time of year where, after the long winter months, we all start to feel alive again. A bit of warm sunshine, longer days and birdsong might be just what the doctor ordered, but to really beat those winter blues it’s time to get outdoors and get back to nature.
A resurgent and resilient natural world is essential to fighting climate change, with our biodiversity crisis inextricably linked to global warming. Sadly, in the UK biodiversity has been depleted by around half compared to pre-industrial levels, a figure much worse than the average 25% of other countries.
Biodiversity loss in the UK has been driven by the transformation of land use brought on by the industrial revolution. 8% of the UK has been built on and much remaining land has been used for farming, with two thirds of our countryside given over to agriculture. The resulting damage to forests, wetlands and grasslands has left little room for habitats and killed off or reduced many native species of plants, animals and fish.
Biodiversity is essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems, but beyond this it’s also essential for our mental health and wellbeing. Being in nature is proven to lift mood and alleviate stress levels, as well as providing a much needed reconnection with the earth for us city-dwellers. So our GoEco April challenge is to reconnect with nature, and maybe even give it a little helping hand.
1 – Find a Wild Patch
Finding a patch of wildlife is surprisingly easy, even if you are in the city. When we say wild patch we don’t mean you have to head to a national park (although this would be great), simply find an untended patch in your area where nature is flourishing.
Urban spaces are full of places where nature creeps in like hedgerows, untended arrears of parks and scrub land. It might even be as simple as a flower growing through a pavement crack, although we encourage you to think a bit bigger than this. Take some time to observe how nature finds a way and grows back wherever we aren’t looking.
2 – Get Sensual
It’s a cliche to say that our modern world is too fast, too busy, and that no one stops to smell the flowers anymore, but unfortunately (like most cliches) it’s true. This April we want you to take some time to re-engage your senses and interact mindfully with nature.
In a park or out in the countryside, spend some time watching the pollinators land on flowers and smell the scent of soil and plant life around you. Listen to birdsong and maybe even touch the earth to stimulate your tactile senses. This activity is not only therapeutic but will also help you to appreciate the rhythms of insects, plants and animals who have a social life outside of human beings. These natural rhythms will put our human problems into perspective and help you to feel at one with the earth.
3 – Lend Nature a Helping Hand
Once you’ve taken some time to think, it’s time for action. Rewilding is a hot topic at the moment but you may not be aware that you can participate in a bit of small scale rewilding yourself.
If you have a garden, leave a patch of it untouched and watch as native weeds and flowers take root, while the overgrown area becomes a haven for wildlife. This kind of habitat provision will also help your local pollinators, who often struggle to find enough sustenance from mile after mile of manicured lawns.
For those without a garden, a bit of stealth rewilding of public space may be in order. Have you heard of seed bombing? Packets of seeds for native wildflowers can be bought at places like Oxfam and Meadow Mania; purchase these and go for a little stroll, throwing them on bare patches of earth. Once distributed, flowers will grow, beginning a process of natural reseeding as they are spread around by birds and insects. This is a great way to help your local wildlife, and have some fun in the process.