It’s been a long while since I last updated this blog. I realise back home, I would blog my outreach experiences, whether they were participation in citizen science projects (TeamSeagrass, Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey) or guiding or booth outreach; I would blog mainly to share about what I’ve been doing. Coming here, there’s a lot less involvement in stuff like this. I could volunteer with Cambridge Conservation Volunteers – but I don’t really like chopping down trees, even though it’s the predominant form of local conservation work here in the UK. Haven’t really given it a shot though, should definitely give it a go at some point before I leave. I could volunteer at the local nature reserves here (Lakenheath perhaps, or Wicken Fen); but they are relatively far/difficult to get to and I don’t quite have the time especially during term time. I thought perhaps I should attempt to write more articles, but I clearly never got round to doing it (also not too confident of my article-writing abilities, though we all need to start somewhere).
Nonetheless, I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do after I graduate. The end is not too far in sight; by June 2015 I will have to fend for myself in the real world, and it’s never too early to start thinking. Broadly speaking, I know I want to be in the conservation field. But there are many aspects – biology/ecology of species research, active management of species/habitats, protection of wildlife/habitats (wildlife trafficking/land use issues), education and outreach, policies and economics etc. They’re not all mutually exclusive, but they are quite different. I do wonder though, which is the most important in actually conserving habitats and species? If it is even possible to pin that down.
Since term ended last Thursday for me (13 Mar), I’ve been spending the past week in the Scottish highlands on a winter skills course, and then in West Sussex on a church retreat, and will be going back up to Northumberland for some hiking with friends. All fairly removed from city-living, providing lots of time for quiet reflection and thinking. Which is perhaps the most appealing reason for conservation of our wild spaces on this Earth, to me at least. For our mental, spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. Yes, there are somewhat-tangible, ecosystem services, but a lot of it is also more than that. Perhaps what I want to “fight for” is not so much the saving of species X or species Y, because it is important for this or because they do that, but more just to protection of wilderness from the ever-expanding reaches of urbanisation. To give space for wild creatures, important for the functioning of this earth for our survival, but also space for us to go, sometimes (is all the time possible?).
I was reading this Atlantic article (warning: super long read) on letting children play unsupervised and a little wilder, on the wider society culture of becoming more sterile, “safe” and less willing to let children out of our sight, and how all this precaution might not be good for us. It rings of the Nature deficit disorder, a hypothesis proposed by Richard Louv, when people spend less time outdoors, resulting in a range of problems. While I grew up pretty much as the Atlantic article describes, in a pretty sterile environment where play is heavily supervised and usually indoors, I have since discovered the joys of the outdoors and sought to remedy whatever play/nature deficit disorder I may have had.
All these just continually highlight to me the importance of outreach and education, to the young, to the public, to the policy-makers.