Thursday, January 2, 2014

Be that Naturalist...in 2014



Nature Wish for 2014

More nature in your lives!  

Plan it, study the options, organize it, do it! 
I dedicate this to the 'naturalists' here in the Mediterranean. 

My kindest gentle suggestions with all my love:

-Remember what history has taught us: "Naturalist cultures" start on the passion of a single naturalist. Be that naturalist. Lead through your service and examples. 

-Try to make "constant contact with nature", everyday. Walk the dog with binoculars or camera in hand. Look up at the sky. Take time to look at the sea. Focus on a flower, a rock slab, an insect. Read the landscape. Give yourself the gift of time with nature. 


- Learn to lead an eco-tour. Any kind of "volta" (outing, trip-about) will do - anywhere. Volunteer to lead a day-tour for your local NGO. Work, study plan-it out before. Lead it as theatrically and with all your personal all. Spread your love for nature. 

- Realize how totally stupid it is to constanlty talk about eco-catastrophe and attach negative vibes to the "plight of nature under man" (creating an ecophobia in kids and the public). Bring instead some positive upbeat messages about nature. Associate nature with 'great times'. The moments that last. 

- Don't be overly sensitive; nature is strong and resilient. All that is painfully missing is a deeper interest by society.  We are all partly to blame: all consumed in ridiculous day-to-day unrealities. The reality is out there....And it is a stinging, calming, brutally wild and harmonious nature-world. Go there to re-focus. 

- Nature is not only beauty or adrenlin-rush. To really come close, you need to study it, to understand it. To love it deeply. And to study nature you need to learn the skill. The skills of natural history are passed on by passionate people, naturalists. And in our part of the world these people are extremely scarce. 

- Find, and spend time with field naturalists. Scuba diving ichthyologists, Bug-maniacs, botanizing flower-watchiers, butterfly nerds, turtlers, twitching birders, lowly collecters of rocks, nature photographers, ecotour-leaders, mountain-climbers. 

-Find or create a naturalist group on FB. Find friends, make naturalist issues a social thing.

-Contribute to your "Natural History" NGOs (there are many ways to do this).

-If you are an environmental scientist of any sort - you must invest in developing your naturalist skills and you must give 10% of your time to affecting culture. "Affecting culture" means doing something real to bring out nature for the public. Think strategically, plan, assess the results.

- Focus on urban nature. Since most of us are city dwellers we must create space and manage for nature in the city. 

-Organize to better protect and promote one small wetland or urban green-space in 2014. If all of us birders in Athens did this strategically we would have at least 10 wetlands saved! Think about the opportunities in and near Athens: Breksiza, Legrena, Artemis Wetland, Upper Rafina River, Keratea Stream, Agios Stephanos Stream, Upper Kifissos, Rafina river-mouth, Psatha, Schinos, Megara stream, Vourkari, Tritsis Park Ponds, Loumbarda, 'Kalivia-Markopoulo Ponds', Beletsi......

-Order and read these two books for 2014:

  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder - Richard Louv (2008).
  • The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age - Richard Louv (2012).
These books give a sense of the right sort of strategy the "naturalist environmental movement" needs. They talk about our kids, our crisis, our real opportunities. 




(The photo is from Summer 2007 during our study of the Castanea woodlands of Mount Ochi, Eubeoa. Sakis Biniaris my friend and long-time collaborator looks at a 300 year old tree near the tree-line at 900 m elevation. An ancient tree, possibly a symbol for the naturalist environmental movement. Yes, a cultural movement is critically needed). 



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