Saturday, 12 April 2014

An ecologist returns to work

Spot the first Bluebell..
it's there under holly's nose..
Saturday. How sweet the word. No rushing around to pack the bag for the baby for her day with her new mammy. No frantic trundling of an over excited Holly into the car to go to the bog. No fumbling with a collection of keys to make sure I have the one for the door of the office. No updates to the man on what's in the bag and why, and the key messages for the day's agenda. None of that order. Let mayhem reign today and let time flow without punctuation points. 

By this time already, after a few hours already of Baa Baa Black Sheep and much gurgling and wriggling, all are back sleeping again (one never actually woke up, yet ;)) and I am blissfully reunited with a sweet silence that hangs over a far too neglected writing platform. Oh dear laptop, oh what a week!

Working as an ecologist in this world is challenging. For reasons known and unknown, the ecologist always seems to be on the back foot - always struggling to find a voice within a world that is pressurised on all sides by social and economic needs. For sure, there is a welcome heightened and heightening awareness of the benefits of the natural world - our natural capital - about us, and certainly it's not all about drain, develop and harvest. But you - the ecologist, or the one who cares - really has to keep the foot to the floor and keep pushing those values, reminding all of the responsibility we bear to preserve and maintain that value, and keeping that message to the fore of all thinking. For what value a sterile and empty space devoid of life to anyone? 

This week I was back out, walking over an Irish bog, meandering through edges of tranquil birch and then to be surrounded by sky larks in full song. It was great to be back - back in the wild - whatever patches of wilderness that remain. But there, combined with the elation of re-uniting with all that orchestra of wild song, there was the sadness that comes with the sharp and painful reminders that sometimes despite best intentions, the human need to develop, drain and harvest, still wins over the astounding value of nature. 

The future
Time to get back to work indeed. We get to explore some of these ideas next Tuesday in the Mansion House in Dublin - Paddy Woodworth will be talking us through the ideas behind his book Our Once and Future Planet, and some of us will be commenting and debating the ideas contained within. The discussion is for everyone - not just misty eyed and well-intentioned ecologists and nature lovers - because the issues of restoration, conservation, nature management will affect us all. Not least the small ones that come after all of us. Sadly, no skylarks in Dublin's fair city but there'll certainly be a few seagulls ;)

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