In a recent podcast, David Attenborough said that in the past half-century we have been given the mechanisms of poisoning and destroying nature beyond the powers of any human previously on Earth. We use this power to take what we want from nature without a care.

Attenborough said we’ve forgotten that we depend on the natural world for every breath of air we take and every bite of food we eat. He reminded us that we’re part of the natural world and have a responsibility for it.

Every small child, he said, has a sense of wonder about the natural world, but as they grow older, they become interested in other things and lose that fascination. As adults, they are disconnected from nature, and continue to take, damage and destroy with impunity.

There have been many studies showing that without a connection to nature, people fail to see how integral it is to our lives and lose interest in protecting it. Other studies show how this disconnection is bad for our health, leading to attention difficulties and high rates of physical and mental illnesses.

What can we do to restore this connection? Attenborough’s prescription is to go to a local wood or natural space. “Stop,” he said in the podcast. “Sit down. Don’t move. Keep quiet. Wait 10 minutes. Don’t be impatient. Something interesting will happen.”

Even those of us with full time jobs can afford to take 10 minutes out of our day just to sit and be in nature – even if it’s only in our back garden. We can encourage our children and grandchildren to discover or renew their sense of wonder in the natural world too, so that future generations learn to live in harmony with nature rather than taking from it as if it were an endless gift.

In Keynsham we’re so lucky to have nature on our doorstep. The Manor Road and Abbey woods to the west and east of the town and our river walks are great places to discover local wildlife. Last week, standing quietly by the river at Somerdale, I saw a cormorant and a kingfisher, sightings that lifted my spirits in these dark days.


This article was first published in the Keynsham Voice – March 2021

Photo by Adolfo Felix on Unsplash