Species monitoring in Bunyip State Park. Photo: Tracey Koper

Species monitoring in Bunyip State Park. Photo: Tracey Koper

we are listening, engaging and working with people

What would you miss the most, if it disappeared from your favourite natural area because of climate change? Should you ask this question, the answers you receive will be many and varied:

I would miss, “the smell of the sea and forest”, “we would miss shade and food”, “peace, and the opportunity that, one day, all will have access to clean air, water and food”, “watching wrens … doing their thing, hopping and skipping around the place”, “grand old red-gum paddock trees”, “sharing the beauty of the natural world with my children”, “freshwater, because it makes everything (and everyone) grow”.

We all value nature, but for many different reasons. Some see nature as the place where plants and animals live. Others view nature as a source of resources, like clean water and food. For many of us, nature is where we go for a holiday with friends and family. In a busy city office, a small bird outside the window can make us stop and smile.

To help all these forms of “nature” adapt to a new climate, we need one thing: people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, old and young, working together for a common future. People from different walks of life who enjoy, and are good at, different things: planting, organising, growing, recording, weeding, lobbying, enthusing and energising.

Social scientists emphasise the importance of working with people who have different values and experiences to us. Groups with diverse backgrounds can build strong allegiances and create lasting outcomes. A wide support base gives us political clout when we raise issues with our local council, Member of Parliament or Minister. Diversity is powerful when aligned to a common cause.

LIGHTING THE SPARK

Verreaux’s Tree Frog. Photo: David Paul/Museum Victoria

Verreaux’s Tree Frog. Photo: David Paul/Museum Victoria

Personal experiences, not learned facts, turn us on to nature. Our childhood fun at the beach, river or farm sparked our desire to explore nature and our commitment to protect the places we value.

In an urban world of gadgets, we risk raising a generation that missed out on fun in the bush. That can’t be healthy – for our children or the planet.

To arrest this growing trend of “nature deficit disorder”, we must create space and time for children (and adults) to be amazed by nature, so everyone can enjoy, “the smell of the sea and forest”, “grand old red-gum paddock trees” and “wrens … doing their thing, hopping and skipping around the place”. In real life, not on a screen. We need to enthuse a new generation of nature lovers.

To help nature adapt to a new climate:

We are joining local groups to learn more and to work with others.
We are respecting the values of all in the community, especially Aboriginal Australians, and finding common ground with those who hold different views.
We are meeting with land managers, local councillors and Members of Parliament.
We are getting kids outdoors and enthusing a new generation of nature lovers.

VicNature 2050 was organised by the Victorian National Parks Association, The Royal Society of Victoria and The University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute and sponsored by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria.