I spend far too much time thinking about things going wrong. I guess it goes with the territory when you are in an organisation faced daily with the impact of the ecological and climate emergencies. But I didn’t see this one coming – nor if you told me in January, that I would be spending my life looking at a tiny screen in my makeshift office at home, would I have believed you. Yet COVID-19 has transformed all our lives, and for far too many with devastating impact.
Our largely housebound existence in the past weeks has been a more interesting time for wildlife. Whether it’s swans returning to canals in Venice, goats appearing in Welsh towns or, closer to home, sensitive wildlife thriving on some of GWT’s more popular nature reserves, the natural world has demonstrated its amazing ability to bounce back.
Life in lockdown has reinforced the value of nature. Our short, precious time outside each day has reminded many of us of the critical role that nature plays, keeping us sane and providing the building blocks for our lives. I don’t think I have ever been so thrilled by spotting my first orange tip butterfly, or the first early purple orchid of the year. Being forced to stop and observe has brought benefits I could never have imagined in terms of widescale public recognition of the wildlife on our doorstep.
While like many I am missing meeting people in the flesh, there is also no doubt that travelling less has had a beneficial impact on the environment and our wildlife. And perhaps most of all, we have shown that we can adapt quickly in the face of an emergency. COVID-19 will not be the first crisis to force us to change the way we live our lives – and returning to ‘normal’ might not be as desirable as we think. Let’s think instead about a new normal that puts our relationship with the environment at its heart.