When last did you take out quality time to enjoy the outdoors? Just like most people, you’re probably too busy to notice the natural environment that surrounds you. Emerging research says nature for our optimal health and well-being as we are interconnected to other species on this planet (1).
This is why Jane Memmott, the new President of the British Ecological Society (BES) advises that we get involved in making our neighborhoods more tree-friendly. She says that even though we can’t save every animal in the wild, you can protect the natural environment by not trimming your lawn.
Jane Memmott became the leader of the British Ecological Society in early 2020. Immediately, she started her campaign to promote the awareness of nature’s impact on our health. Her vision aims to encourage people to make simple yet effective changes that support the natural environment which will, in turn, repay our good deeds multiple times over.
Why Nature Conservation Matters?
Jane says that we don’t often think about how we are all dependent on nature. Whether you had an apple, marmalade on toast, pumpkin seed in your muesli, or maybe even a cup of coffee for breakfast, all these foods need pollinators. The plants that support us and the animals have to be pollinated else they can’t reproduce. Not just that, these pollinating agents carry out important tasks in nature that we often ignore.
Jane points out that for example, we don’t think about the existence of an army of critters removing crop pests or the survival rate of Beatles if there are no dung.
During your commute to work this morning you probably passed some trees by the wayside that provide shade, beautify the neighborhood, regulates pollution and water. But did you stop to admire the many contributions the trees add to our society? Perhaps not.
Jane says that she once purposely bought a house with an extra room she didn’t need because she loved the view of the trees. On a broader note, Jane advises that we focus on managing our land resources well as this will help reduce water waste and the risk of flooding events. She also points out that the most popular tourist destinations we love to visit are nature-focused. So why not help more people enjoy the British outdoors?
Your Little Effort Can Produce Massive Changes
Performing simple acts such as keeping a garden, an allotment, a balcony, or buying a plant pot for your doorstep can help provide more food for pollinators. Insects like bees, hoverflies, and butterflies will have plenty to eat. To help achieve this, Jane suggests you follow these simple rules to help you make a change.
She says when buying flowers, you should order for the single ones instead of those that come as double. This will help to increase the amount of food available for the pollinators.
These pollination agents need a lot of food to eat especially during the months of February to November. So, you can try to plant flowers throughout the year because most pollinators will struggle to find food both at the beginning and end of the season. But if you don’t have the time, at least encourage your neighbors to start a garden. If everyone on your street is planting flowers or growing gardens, you’ll achieve more.
Jane says that you should accommodate weeds especially dandelions in your lawn as most insects feed on it during the early seasons. In the UK alone, there are an estimated 270 species of solitary bees that eat dandelions. She notes that maybe if dandelions were scarce people would value them more. So, allow your lawn to grow until it gets to ankle height. At this point, the daisies, dandelions, and clovers have a better chance of being pollinated.
Nature Will Support Us
Jane said she feels motivated whenever she thinks about the system by which nature rewards us when we protect and support it.
According to a report by Wildlife Trusts, being in nature can have positive effects on our health and overall well-being (2). Another study done in Japan found that people who spent significant amounts of time outdoors had higher levels of killer immune cells (3). In addition, a 2016 paper points out that people who had an allotment, have higher self-esteem and vigor with reduced symptoms of depression and fatigue (4). One recent paper also says that people who walked in nature or green space improved their mood for up to seven hours (5).
Meanwhile, residents in Bristol can now enjoy the inspiring effects of the wildflower meadows Jane convinced the university to plant.
One neighbor commented that they are grateful for the person who initiated the idea. They explain further that the view of the flower inspires them as they walk to their meetings. The best part is the vibrant colors match perfectly with the buildings and it’s also beneficial for the wildlife in the community.
Jane is convinced that if we continue to integrate nature into our cities, it will create magical experiences that can help to boost mood. She gave an example of when she was walking to work one morning, she saw a pair of peregrines sharing a pigeon for breakfast. She was so excited about the view that she asked a stranger to come join her in experiencing the moment. This one event Jane said kept her inspired throughout the week.
The BES Aims to Promote the Science of Ecology
Jane has made it her mission to spread the word about the vision of BES. She’s advocating for the advancement of ecological science and how we can incorporate it into our daily lives.
The goal of the BES is to seek science-backed research as a means of informed policy decision making in government. She points out that we are seeing now that many people around the world are campaigning for more trees to be planted. For example, the Billionaire CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk recently donated a million dollars to a global tree-planting charity (6). However, Jane says we should also be aware that there’s a need to plant the right type of trees in the right environment. She explains that if we don’t understand how nature works, our tree planting efforts will not be as effective as it should be.
Currently, the BES has over 6000 members worldwide who invest their time researching various niches in order to harness the power of ecology. Jane says she is committed to the BES goals of supporting the ecological community and providing the best evidence-based research for nature lovers all over the world.