Making green the new normal

As we talk of a 'new normal', what does this mean for our Trust, and for the natural world as a whole?

The past six months have brought a level of challenge to our organisation that is difficult to put into words. We have been left with an enormous financial hole to fill and, whilst our actions have helped steady us in the short term, we are now heading into a recession and we will need to be creative and flexible.

Without the Government Job Retention scheme, our future would have been bleak. We have also been able to secure grants to support us, through the emergency fund from National Lottery Heritage Fund and Esmee Fairburn Foundation. Our wonderful members have been loyal to us and have been key in helping us survive.

We have been faced with difficult decisions to secure the future of the Trust and, sadly, we have had to make redundancies. With an incredible and passionate workforce, we have done so with a heavy heart.

As we begin to return to normal we must not forget the things that helped us. We saw a huge surge of people turning to nature to provide solace in times of uncertainty. It was a small glimpse of the life we used to know. It helped us to create our Nearby Nature Survey - you will see the encouraging results when it is published.

A long-tailed tit in flight with a green caterpillar held in its beak

Long-tailed tit by Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

There has been a new wave of interest in nature and wildlife, from gardening to birdwatching and everything in between. People are seeing the value our natural world brings - a beacon of hope in desperate times.

But will we all remember? Will we remember that sense of community as we all gathered on our doorsteps at 8pm each Thursday to clap for our wonderful key workers? Will we still stop to watch that bee buzzing around our garden? How good does it feel to have lungs full of fresh air after days in the house or to hear the birds providing a daily cheerleading service?

The sad reality is that before the pandemic nature was in crisis. It will continue in crisis unless we take this opportunity to continue some of our nature-loving lockdown ways. We need to put nature into recovery and we need it now.

The nature crisis itself, much like the Coronavirus pandemic, can feel so incredibly overwhelming. The solution is there, and it starts with personal action. We have been able to make a collective difference by small individual actions: staying at home, contact only with our households and singing 'Happy Birthday' whilst washing our hands. Individual actions can make a big difference – if we do them together.

A pair of fox cubs playfighting with each other

Fox cubs playing by Luke Massey/2020VISION

It is fantastic to see that our campaigning of the last 10 years has resulted in an Environment Bill, currently going through Parliament, capturing many of the things we - and our members - asked for. 

We will see Nature Recovery Networks as statutory duties, mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain. The Agriculture Act will pull away from the subsidies of the Common Agricultural Policy and move to an Environment Land Management Scheme, which will put public payments for public goods at the heart of the system. It is all to play for and we have got to ensure the good intentions are brought into reality.

Our skills and expertise should be in demand in a way they never have been before. We hope that with the increase in those engaging with nature will come an increase in voices and support for a greener and wilder future. A brave new world.

And you can get involved. Think about the people around you and how you can join together to help a greener future. It could be inspiring your children about nature or cycling more often instead of driving. You can go peat-free in your garden. You could persuade your employer to make the business more green or encourage your colleagues  to fundraise to help support our work. You can make sure your local MP keeps environmental issues at the top of their agenda.

There are many ways we can all support a green recovery, if we work together. Let’s make sure that nature isn't forgotten and let's fight for a wilder future.

Become a member today

Wildlife has been a lifeline at this difficult time, but it is fragile – it needs our protection. Help us create a wilder future on your doorstep. Become a member today and get a free book.

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Take part in Wild Walk Week between 24 - 30 August and raise money for the incredible wildlife on your doorstep.

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Group walk by Zsuzsanna Bird