We begin 2021 in a worldwide turmoil that Covid 19 has bought upon us all and there is a long way to go before much of humanity can return to what is known as normal. In the fast-paced modern world that much of the nine billion humans were living in before the pandemic, I have found the slowing down of life very interesting and the way people have reacted and behaved as a result of this equally fascinating.
There were many articles last year, during the first lockdown, about how many people had discovered their local wildlife because it was quieter and people had more time to actually observe wildlife around them. It does seem reasonably obvious to me that this happened to some people and this is a good thing in general. I have spent much of my life trying to educate people about the importance of nature and the habitats that wildlife lives in. Many of the things that have had articles written in newspapers and magazines in the last year, are things that I, as a person who has watched wildlife for my whole life and worked in nature conservation for a number of years, has naturally done all my life and I did feel happy and encouraged that some people had made these ‘ new ‘ discoveries. Some of the articles that I read have, I fee, given somewhat of a false impression and made me think about some of my own observations of my fellow humans and left me as usual somewhat in the middle
When I read some of the articles about how some people had suddenly been able to hear birdsong and how some of our native wildlife has benefited from the much reduced human activity. This point alone is a very obvious and beneficial for our wildlife. It’s obvious because less, noise, pollution and disturbance will always help the wildlife that humanity has generally destroyed and marginalised for thousands of years. I will be fascinated to see the data on how our wildlife benefited from the quiet Spring of 2020. I, like many other conservationists, have always been aware that if wildlife and their habitats are given a chance to survive; they will do well, survive and hopefully prosper
From a personal perspective, I’m not totally convinced that there will be a new wave of conservationists emerging as a result of Covid 19 lockdowns. There are many factors that can encourage people to take an interest in ‘ wildlife ‘ and they include where you live, if you have children, time availability and individual passion. I’ve met plenty of people over the years who I can only describe as armchair conservationists and claim to be interested or care about wildlife because they watch David Attenborough programmes on TV but don’t go out to look for wildlife, belong to a conservation organisation, sign a petition or have done any type of conservation work in their lives and this recent claim that more people are becoming more interested in nature and wildlife may well be true for some people and without wanting to be totally negative, anybody that has become interested in wildlife and conservation during the last years lockdown can only be a good thing if it helps people’s sanity and creates more awareness of wildlife in general.
Some of the reasons I have doubted the sudden conversion of the general public has come from my own observations of the general public and friends who have told me of vast amounts litter left at various beauty spots they had visited. From my own observations, there was the usual teenage abuse from littering, vandalism and worrying livestock. Young people have had, like all of us, an unprecedented situation with the lockdowns and though their options were severely narrowed and it was almost inevitable that some problems would occur with the youth. It did depress me even more when I saw similar behaviour from alleged adults and I was amazed on more than one occasion when I witnessed littering by adults that was equally as bad as some of the teenager’s messy activities I had also seen over last summer.
In general, I feel there is still a considerable way to go before more people start taking natural history and the conservation of it, more seriously in their everyday lives. The people who have made these discoveries about nature in the past year should be encouraged and hopefully they in turn may help to get more people to take more of an interest in the environment in general. We can only wait and see what happens over the coming months and how the world reacts to dealing with Corona 19. Let’s hope people do take more interest in the environment and its wildlife whatever happens in the foreseeable future. We shall see