So, It’s a wet, wet day and I am holed up in my kitchen doing some research for my new book, which I have been slowly working on for the last year. I am writing the story of my time with the wildlife conservation group I ran for six years, an experience which had a profound effect on me as it did on everyone who found their way to us.
Sometimes I think is it just a bit old fashioned to write a book about a wildlife conservation group when young people are camping on the streets of London and pressurising governments about the climate crisis. Wouldn’t I be better off spending my time joining them?
But what I am discovering from my research is that I am also part of the solution. For governments to take action they need to think that enough ordinary people care and people care about nature if they feel the need for it.
Some people feel the point is to save the earth for the sake of humanity. After all we cannot survive without a planet and we cannot survive without nature’s ‘ecosystem services’ of carbon capture, fresh water and healthy soil that can grow food. Personally I find myself more interested in saving the planet simply because it exists and is beautiful and other creatures have as much right to life as us. But it is the truth that, while nature will survive just find without us, we cannot survive without it.
Nature is essential for our physical survival But what I am learning through my research is that we also need it on a more subtle level too. Studies show that our brains have become wired through lack of contact with it.
Urban environments and technology are literally sending us crazy. Constant noise, proximity to other people and attention grabbing websites are sending our amygdala into overload and leading, not only to rises in depression and anxiety, but even to illness’s like schizophrenia. Nature resets our brain and makes us calm down, become less prone to rumination and more able to concentrate.
So we need nature for our physical health, for our mental health and also for our soul. Whether you believe in the existence of it or not, you probably know that indefinable something that soars in the presence of nature’s grandeur. At least I really hope you do. Nature links us with the unknown, with something larger than ourselves that we cannot pin down. We need this. We need that heart stopping sunset or rush of bird wing overhead, we need that moment of silence in deep woodland broken by one insect buzz. God how we need that.
It makes me feel justified, this research. What I am trying to write about is not just a story of a group of people who went to the woods but why being part of a group that went to the woods made us all feel so damn happy. It is a book about connection with nature and how it heals us in a world gone a little mad. It is a story about how we need nature far more than it needs us.
In writing this story I not only hope to tell people about the power of nature to heal but encourage them to get out and see for themselves how much difference it can make to all our lives and why we should all be supporting those people camping on the streets of the capital that are fighting for it’s future.