Like everybody else, I’m feeling that the last 6 months or so have been the weirdest on record! The Covid pandemic has affected literally every aspect of human society – but I’m interested in two main issues: how has the natural world been affected? And secondly, have there been some positive learning factors to be gleaned from this experience?
Ironically, the pandemic has actually benefited the planet’s wildlife in many ways – predominantly in reducing pollution. I’m still shocked that it took just two weeks for the pollution to drop by half above New York City – that seems impossibly fast and must surely give hope that direct action on pollutants WILL bring immediate benefit? I’m wondering also if birdsong was actually “louder” as so many people mused, or just more “effective” because of the lack of competing traffic noise? Another hopeful theory is that our hedgehog population might have had a better year with less falling victim to road traffic.
Apparently there was a big rush of people ordering bird food online – at least we might have had time to watch our feathered friends coming to feed – a great benefit to them and an absorbing hobby!! There was a similar rush on buying gardening tools and seeds – I do hope that many of these were for nectar rich flowers which will benefit a myriad of insects including bees and butterflies – in our garden a newly made “bug hotel” was a huge success with leaf cutter bees taking up residence.
From a personal point of view, I’ve found some aspects of lockdown very difficult: being furloughed from work was ok, I never get bored. But, without any semblance of a timescale it has been very difficult to plan walks and countryside activities and, as such, there is a bit of a mountain to climb to get “back to work” – especially as social distancing really isn’t my thing!! I also do many events for the National Trust and these are all cancelled indefinitely – a great shame!
More broadly speaking, lockdown has seen some huge benefits to human society and it’s appreciation of the natural world: so many people have begun to understand the therapeutic qualities of spending some time associating with nature – and this doesn’t have to be a mountain or a forest, it can simply be to quietly lean against a tree in a park or garden and feel the comfort and inspiration drawing from the experience. If it wasn’t for being able to escape lockdown for the allotted hour per day I think the mental health implications would have been (even) more serious for many people.
With this in mind I have determined that my therapy walks should become more regular and more accessible. It’s difficult to see how I can teach bushcraft, survival skills or foraging under the current recommended restrictions, but I could get the walks going again. We must not let the good and positive that came out of Covid become diluted and lost again: our new “normal” must be with a closer eye on our most magnificent ally – Mother Nature!