Coping with ecoanxiety

Chalk hill blue butterfly at sunset by Phill Luckhurst /distinctlyaverage.co.uk

Mick Jones has practical suggestions for tackling the climate emergency and nature crisis.

BBOWT stood united with thousands of young people at the global climate strike in Oxford in September. Broad Street was awash with a sea of people of all ages carrying placards demanding urgent action for nature’s recovery. School pupils gave up a day’s education to stand up for the environment, while many parents left work to join them.

BBOWT faces heartbreak daily as we see the wildlife we love lost time and time again. As a movement, The Wildlife Trusts stand united with all those who share our belief that nature is valuable in its own right as well as being essential to our existence.

These can be gloomy times for those of us keen on wildlife and the countryside.

To add to the looming threat of global climate change a whole series of scientific research projects and both international and national government reports have been highlighting the precarious state of nature and the accelerating rate of loss of both species and habitats.

We are also faced at local level with planning decisions and processes that seem to prioritise enormous infrastructure projects and abstract economic growth models over the special characteristics of the local countryside we enjoy and hundreds of valued local wildlife sites.

Butterfly

Is it surprising that psychiatrists are reporting a marked increase in general anxiety specifically related to worries about the environment?

Even people not directly involved in wildlife activities are feeling that the background and context for their lives has become unstable and uncertain, and extreme weather events and disruption are feeding into this.

For those of us more involved with nature, the lovely warm, sunny weather of last summer and even more so during this July and August, has brought mixed emotions.

At times clouds of butterflies, bees and other insects have delighted us and it has felt as though the tide of insect declines might have reversed. Some of our meadows have had spectacular displays of flowers and there have been lots of fine days for exploring them. Just like the old days!

Then we remember that some of our desperately rare chalk streams are drying up. BBOWT’s Letcombe Valley reserve near Wantage has one of only two chalk streams in the whole of Oxfordshire.

There are new concerns about familiar butterflies, our bumblebees and once-common farmland birds. At some sites one of our special regional flowers, Chiltern gentian, seems not to have recovered from the drought in 2018 and hasn’t reappeared this year.

Climate change is adding to the stress that our wildlife is already suffering from enormous losses of habitat. Latest reports on climate change and species loss paint a very bleak picture, leaving us feeling utterly powerless as individuals.

volunteers

Volunteers by Jess Gallagher

What is the solution? Get involved! Get active!

Your Wildlife Trust is at the forefront of fighting for policy changes, including a new comprehensive Environment Bill that will protect and improve the UK’s natural world.

BBOWT is also a major player in land management, directly protecting the most important places for wildlife and managing sites to make them more resilient in the face of threats from climate change and the spread of diseases.

BBOWT volunteers support this work through publicity and information events, fundraising and campaigning and we need more help! Can you offer some time?

You could get active with physical conservation work or species recording on our nature reserves. Getting outdoors and active with like-minded volunteers has been shown to give both physical and mental health benefits. And you would know that your work is directly benefiting wildlife.

So, don’t just sit at home worrying about the news – come and join your local Wildlife Trust or one of the other conservation groups active in this area.

In the end, it will take many small changes at local level as well as national and international policy change if we are to bring about a sustainable and wilder future.

Find out more about climate change and the nature crisis, and what you can do to make a difference 

 

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