As an advocate of sustainability and as somebody on the quest for health- I often wonder: how can I make the most and combine both worlds?
My answer has often been: spend more times in the great outdoors! Go for a walk for some wild picking, cycle around instead of driving, so some exercise in nature instead of using the gym...
So you can imagine my surprise when in my ‘google scholar alerts’ this morning I received a paper titled ‘Nature as a commodity: what’s good for human health might not be good for ecosystem health’ (van Heezik & Brymer) - say whaaat? Of course I decided to open it and see what they had to say.
Some good points (and my counterpoints):
more people wanting to be in ‘nature’ means......
- more artificial paths
-true but it doesn’t have to be. People can be in real nature and adventure instead? True it might lead to trampling but nature should recover. After all its trampled by animals all the times?!
- Less space for 'unattractive' wildlife (i.e. spiders)
Again possibly true, but same as above - enjoying nature should mean nature in all of its aspects, spiders and all, no?
- 'greening urban environments will introduce vegetation based on an easy-to-manage or economic approach, rather than an approach that considers local biodiversity'
Perhaps. But this is something 'wrong' with society as a whole in my opinion. We destroy nature to urbanise to then try recreate 'nature' within the urban structure. Should we not reconsider and de-urbanise more and more? Going back to basics...
And in this the authors I believe do have a point and are right in saying that "nature" shouldn't be viewed as a commodity, but should be appreciated as what it is meant to be, respected for it, and hopefully restored one day to more pristine conditions.
To leave you with their wise words:
"Viewing nature as a ‘pill’ is short-sighted; more meaningful gains for human well-being can be achieved through appreciating the reciprocal human-nature relationship, developing stewardship rather than exploitation, and lifting biodiversity baselines through ecological restoration. From a psychological health perspective what is urgently needed is a principled theoretical framework, combining ecological and psychological related knowledge, to guide a more enlightened program of research and practice. Only through an interdisciplinary approach and the development of frameworks that support this approach will we promote and protect the health and well-being of people and nature."
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