We really enjoyed the following essay, originally published in the NC Coastal Federation's Coastal Review Online. Many thanks to Coastal Review and to author Jared Lloyd, wildlife photographer and nature writer, for allowing us to reprint it here.
I’m on the winter beach, wide, flat and cold. Cobalt-blue skies reign overhead. A biting wind rushes in from the northwest.
It’s all so different up here on the northern Outer Banks, compared to the southern islands. The Labrador current and cold-slope waters create a dramatically different climate here, compared to those sandbars governed by the Gulf Stream. Seals will be showing up again soon enough. Mostly young harbor seals, but a few fat greys and even some harps, if we are lucky.
The New England blues have already made it to town, and I can only assume stripers are in their mix. I’ve watched a parade of humpback whales migrating south past this beach for a month now already, their dark, shadowy masses drawing in birds for miles around, occasionally rolling over to lift a great wing of a fin out of the sea like a friendly neighbor waving hello, or goodbye, or maybe just flipping me the bird. <<continued...>>
The following is excerpted from a National Geographic magazine essay (Sept. 2020 issue) and from Enric Sala’s book, The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild (2020). (Britain’s Prince Charles and Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson furnish the book’s introductions.)
“If we degrade habitats, animals become stressed and shed more viruses. On the other hand, habitats with diverse species harbor less disease. . . . Nature controls viruses – filtering them out of the system – that we’re only now recognizing. . . .
"We are all in this together, all species on the planet. So what can we do? While the world has stepped up to help those in need during the COVID-19 outbreaks, we might also start thinking about how to prevent the next zoonotic pandemic.
"We have seen, again and again, that even though we don’t know what most of them do, all wild animals have important jobs that keep our biosphere running. If we’ve learned anything from our study of natural ecosystems as it applies to these recent diseases, it’s that instead of exterminating wild animals to stop the passage of disease to people, we should do the opposite: We should safeguard the natural ecosystems that are their homes and, if needed, help set them back on their path to maturity through rewilding.
"If we degrade habitats, animals become stressed and shed more viruses. On the other hand, habitats with diverse microbial, plant, and animal species harbor less disease. Biodiversity dilutes any viruses that emerge and provides a natural shield that absorbs the fallout from pathogens.
"Clamping down on the illegal trade of wildlife, ending deforestation, protecting intact ecosystems, educating people about the risks of consuming wildlife, changing the way we produce food, phasing out fossil fuels, and transitioning to a circular economy: these are the things we can and must do.
"Even if it’s just for selfish reasons—for our own survival—now more than ever, we need the wild. A healthy natural world is our best antivirus.”
READ the following statement for Southern Conservation Partners authored by board chair Milo Pyne. . . .
In addition, we recommend this Aug. 20, 2020 INTERVIEW with J. Drew Lanham (Clemson University wildlife ecology professor; author of numerous profound essays concerning environmental justice and issues for minority populations in America; and author of books including The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair With Nature and 9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher. The interview was conducted by Tom Fleischner, Natural History Institute executive director and chair of the Ecological Society of America's natural history section.
"Friday, June 19th, was Juneteenth, an annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. To honor this solemn anniversary and to demand continued work toward true liberation for black people in this country, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in a national day of action organized by Black-led groups on the front lines of this fight. We will continue to remember ...
… and countless other Black lives lost to police brutality and racist violence.
We at Southern Conservation Partners must sadly acknowledge that the conservation lands forming the backbone of land and biodiversity conservation in the southeastern United States were first stolen from the indigenous inhabitants—members of civilizations and groups we now call the Cherokee, Lumbee, Shawnee, Choctaw, Natchez, Yuchi, Eno, Caddo, Timucua, Catawba, Seminole, and many more. Their names live on in the terms by which we describe many of our rivers, National Forests, and other conservation lands. (continued...)
Waves of grief and anxiety wash over me. At a time when the world needs a hug, we just can’t. And all the public entertainment is gone--sports, movies, bars and restaurants. Even dining in the home of someone you love puts you at greater risk. I’ve given up seeing my 2-year-old and 6-year-old grandsons.
It's heartbreakingly sad, and everyone is saying the worst is ahead of us. Death will come to some we love. But rebirth is all around us because spring is here and there is resurrection in that green wood. You can still find peace and great joy. Go outside. Go to the woods. Be very present. Let your thoughts pass like the clouds and really see what is here now and your stress will disappear.
Unlike those in Italy and China, we are not confined to our homes. We live in a beautiful green garden. This is the blessing. This can be our salvation. Go. Walk around your yard. Yell across the driveway to your neighbor. Decide where you’ll plant your garden. Feel the breeze. Listen to the birds. See the trees reaching upward to the heavens. You can stretch and reach, too. You can put your arms around that tree and hug it. Believe me, it will help you heal. Neuroscientists have studied it. It can also boost your immunity and is a tonic for stress and grief. It could save your life.
Jesus went to the mountaintop to pray. Buddha sat under the spreading branches of a fig tree with its heart-shaped leaves. They found the “peace that passeth understanding.” You can, too.
Water heals. Turn over the rocks and see the life on the underside. Skip a stone. Take your kids fishing. Walk alongside a stream. Listen. The sound of water, the gurgle, babble, splash soothes. So much life abounds it will renew your hope.
--Kathleen Williams-Mooradian, Southern Conservation Partners Board Member
(Essay originally published on April 9, 2020, in The Tennessean )
In this time of peril and anxiety, we at Southern Conservation Partners offer our best wishes for health and security to our community of friends, supporters,website visitors, and all stewards of nature. None of us know the forthcoming full dimensions and consequences of the expanding pandemic on our society, on the economy, on our own families and loved-ones. The quarantines, travel curtailment, and cancellations further stress and isolate us. We can only hope for recovery and return to better health and sensibility.
The current global human health, economic, and political crises—and the cascading deterioration of the Earth’s biota and ecosystems generated by our altered global climate—hopefully give us pause and cause for reflection and sincere thought about how we humans are profoundly interconnected with the health of our Earth’s environment and its support systems. A central lesson to be learned or reinforced is to more keenly realize the interconnections among us humans and with the natural world.
We recommend that you and your family and loved ones find solace and inspiration outside in nature. Without access to most of our regular activities—with our work places, schools, restaurants, stores, museums, public libraries closed—try to increase your time in nature. Find outdoor recreation and restoration of spirit in a local park, walk a trail, bike a greenway, paddle on a favorite pond or stream, cultivate and expand your home garden and native wildlife-friendly plantings.
It’s extraordinary to step outside and reconnect with nature. You will find solace and satisfaction and peace in the “wild places” that are immediately close by. Nature and wild things around us offer to stitch back together the health of our planet and communities—the place we know as Home.
Take a pledge in these unsettled times to be a better friend of nature and better citizen of your whole human and natural community. Slow down, breath deeply (best done on a natural trail or even in your own backyard), and recommit to preserving and restoring wild and natural places. And help your neighbors and community to survive and recover. Keep on fighting the battles for right thinking and actions. Be hopeful and contribute to making your community and country and Earth more healthy and resilient.
Now step outside into your own piece of nature!
[And if the weather or time isn’t right for outside spiritual restoration, we suggest you add reading more of our website’s Viewpoint essays, along with re-reading from your stockpile of favorite inspirational books at home or on the internet.] —Chuck Roe, president, Southern Conservation Partners
We post below excerpts from an essay by Paul Kingsnorth titled "Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist," which appears in a 2017 collection of essays of the same title. Kingsnorth is a Brit and cofounder of the Dark Mountain Project, a global network of writers, artists, and thinkers in search of “new stories for a world on the brink.” We found the following words to be remarkably thought-provoking. Please visit Kingsnorth’s website and consider buying and reading his books. And let us know what you think!
“I became an ‘environmentalist’ because of a strong emotional reaction to wild places and the world beyond the human. . . . But these are not, I think, very common views today. Today’s environmentalism is as much a victim of the contemporary cult of utility as every other aspect of our lives, from science to education. We are not environmentalists now because we have an emotional reaction to the wild world. In this country, most of us wouldn’t even know where to find it. We are environmentalists now in order to promote something called ‘sustainability.’ What does this curious, plastic word mean? <<continued . . . >>
Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land.
There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers.
From the President
SCP President Chuck Roe looked at land conservation along the route of John Muir's "Southern Trek."
This blog offers views of our Board and partners. We invite your viewpoint on the following questions: