2020: A newfound appreciation of the natural world?

Posted by Wild Spaces on

The magnitude of the Covid pandemic is unquestionable. Seldom in human history have we experienced an event quite so universal in its impact, crossing boundaries of place, age, gender and ethnicity to touch the lives of us all. And never before have we had greater cause for togetherness, compassion and collective action. Those are the qualities which have defined the best of our response to the pandemic, and will be needed again if we are to overcome the challenges it presents.

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity”

...as a well-known theoretical physicist once said. One such opportunity is to redress the balance between humans and all other life on our planet. After decades of environmental degradation, reckless consumption and wilful ignorance, Covid can be a catalyst for change. Not just to help overcome this pandemic and prevent similar outbreaks, but to ensure we protect what we have left of a decimated natural world.

As if we needed reminding, Covid has focused our attention back on the importance of nature and its ability to heal - both itself and us. Across the world, people are re-discovering the connection between mental wellbeing and access to the outdoors. That doesn’t have to mean making your way to the nearest tropical rainforest. For many (myself included), a local park can provide a refuge of calm and restoration.

Scotland by photographer Hamish Frost

Nature at Work

In fact, recent studies indicate that those who work in “environments with nature-inspired elements” are:

    • 6% more productive
    • 15% more creative, and
    • have a 15% higher level of wellbeing

    Workers surrounded by natural elements also report higher levels of job satisfaction and overall happiness. Just reading about the outdoors or being exposed to plants and greenery on a daily basis can go some way to improving our wellbeing, and the same goes for photography and art. At Wild Spaces, we hope our fine art photography can both lift spirits in the moment, and inspire people to get out and enjoy the natural world in whatever way they choose.

    Mamores, Scotland shot by Hamish Frost

    The physical benefits of exercise are well documented, but in recent years more and more people have turned to outdoor activity to improve their mental wellbeing. From cold water swimming to paleo workouts, several ‘eco-therapies’ have emerged to help us reduce stress and provide relief from anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. That said, these activities can’t always provide instant remedies or one-time cures. The true benefit of embracing nature lies in the long-term.

    Beyond the Pandemic

    Whilst still in the clutches of Covid, our new-found appreciation for the natural world can create a legacy of positive change. We must be proactive in protecting our wild spaces and the species they support, both through individual action and by holding the powerful to account. Governments are starting to take notice, but meaningful policy changes are often slow. Big businesses are re-thinking long-held notions of profits over purpose, largely thanks to consumer pressure. But these changes start and end with the individual. The day-to-day decisions we make will collectively contribute towards safeguarding the natural world for future generations.