With the risk of sounding like a middle aged hippy (who has a penchant for making sock monkeys out of dog hair… and indeed wassailing…) I hands down believe that submerging ones self in nature, be it in a small garden, or on the wild moors, has bountiful benefits for our mental and physical welling. The incredible combination of touching tree bark whilst listening to the bird song, or laying in a field and touching the grass around you (calm down, John Keats…) has always been my anxiety cure of choice. Perhaps this is why I’ve found moving to London so challenging? Richmond Park, although stunning, has nothing on the richly biodiverse habitats of the South Coast.. BUT, this is what has got me thinking recently (steady…)
I am the project officer (woooo!) for ‘Citizen Fish’, a new project initiated by the Thames Estuary Partnership which is aiming to create a citizen science environmental monitoring programme for the Thames Estuary. Part of what I want to achieve with this (and what the whole of the Thames Estuary Partnership is doing an amazing job of achieving – hats off to my boss) is changing peoples perspectives of the Estuary. People assume that the Thames (and most rivers and estuaries) is dirty, mucky, polluted etc… But no more my friends, no more! Sixty years ago, the Thames was declared biologically dead. Correct. Now it is one of the most biodiverse habitats in Europe! With over 126 fish species choosing to reside there. Pretty incredible stuff, aye?
My point of the above paragraph is; If we can somehow get people (even city dwellers) to reconnect to our rivers and natural spaces on a personal level, people may start to VALUE natural spaces more, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship for humans and wildlife. Engaging with wild spaces has proven positive effects on human health and wellbeing. If people value their wild spaces e.g. the Thames, then they will be more inclined to CARE for them. Right?
So get out there, get paddling, get bug hunting and see if you give a hug to our endangered natural spaces. After all, it’s down to us to protect them!