Making Peace with Nature | Scottish Wildlife Trust

Writer, ecologist and Trustee Julian Caldecott introduces the recording of our special Peace with Nature panel discussion, which took place at the Trust’s 58th Annual General Meeting in September.

© Fergus Gill/2020VISION


With ecosystems unravelling worldwide, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for peace with nature to be “the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere”. But what would that peace look like, and how can we all help to build it? Here the Scottish Wildlife Trust throws open a discussion on these questions, starting with reflections from some leading peace-builders.

Is humanity at war with nature? It sometimes seems so. But perhaps this is just the result of an immature species abusing an older parent, not realising how much we depend on Mother Earth. We can die from ignorance as easily as from malice, however, so we had better grow up fast. The main systems of the living world – from the Arctic and Amazon to monsoons and ocean currents – are on the brink of tipping into chaos, due to many decades of global heating, over-exploitation and pollution. This would be the kind of system change that most life on Earth cannot survive.

All plausible solutions seem to require sacrifice and inconvenience. That’s why Al Gore’s movie on climate change was called ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. But life has always been hard work, which is why it’s often called ‘the struggle for existence’. We can make it a lot easier, though, by respecting the natural powers that shape our lives, and by cooperating with one another for safety and comfort. Recognising each other and nature as our strongest allies is the key to success, as well as making community work feel much more like fun. Caring, planting, tending, restoring, recycling, harvesting … These are all good things to do.

In this Scottish Wildlife Trust panel discussion, introduced by Chair Linda Rosborough, I host people from the frontier of peace-building with nature, and asks them to share their own perspectives and answer your questions. First up is Neville Ash from the UN Environment Programme, who reminds us that we are faced by at least three dangerous crises, on climate, pollution and mass extinction, all of them getting worse by the day. We know what we must do to solve them, but we don’t seem to want to do it. It’s all too inconvenient. We should get a grip, he says, pay attention, make careful choices, and support our local activists.

Then we hear from Mary Michel of Ostrero, who works with schools and children to build nature consciousness. She is also a Trustee of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, seeking a society in which politicians will deliver, and economists will measure, important stuff rather than trivia. From her we also learn the value of story-telling, and about the fate of Lulu the Scottish orca. She hands over to Prof. Rob Brooker of the James Hutton Institute, who stresses the value of cooperation between individuals who can do a lot (but only so much), charities that can mobilise the strength of thousands, and governments whose job is to provide fair and wise leadership to millions.

Finally, Director of Conservation Sarah Robinson overviews how the people of the Scottish Wildlife Trust see their role as living at peace with nature, while helping others understand their place in nature and in a society that depends on nature for its wellbeing and sustainability. She explains how this animating vision plays out through all the Trust’s efforts to grow truly living systems, ones in which people accept their roles, rights and responsibilities as stewards of nature and of their own future wellbeing.

Issues raised by questioners range from the many values of allotments to the key roles of dietary choices and land management. The guests fold their responses into the discussion, helping to get this ongoing dialogue on peace with nature, and how to build it, off to a flying start.


Julian Caldecott

Scottish Wildlife Trust Trustee


To view more online talks and events visit our catch up page.

Source link