A fresh look on nature

Introducing the world to a child gives conflicting feelings.

We started using the GR-routes – meandering throughout Europe – to discover the beauty of the world around us

On the one hand, there is a feeling of doom: how do I dare adding another child to this deteriorating world, without asking her if she wants to live in it – and without being able to promise her the safe and happy live I got myself, when our nature wasn’t on the brink of destruction yet. It is an argument recently more frequently used to restrain from procreating at all.

If the best nature around her is straight and artificial canals like this one – what is left to love?

Yet, perhaps a bit surprisingly, what I feel is mostly hope. Introducing the world to this fresh set of eyes, filled with wonder and curiosity, made me realize much more clearly that all is far from being lost. Even in our heavily populated corner of the world, between Brussels and Antwerp in the heart of Western Europe, there is natural beauty around us that fills my child with aw.

In a recent survey of more than 1200 Belgians and Netherlands, we asked if people experience a decline or increase in nature around them. 75% reported the former: they had the feeling that nature had deteriorated over their lifetime. This paints a gloomy picture at first sight, and the decline over time is undeniably there.

The open horizon with view of the church tower – a landscape that has been getting harder to come by in Flanders over the last decennia

Yet what that babies amazement made me realise more clearly is that we shouldn’t dwell too much in the past. Observing what has been lost is important to see the gravity of the situation we are in, but what matters is what we do with that knowledge, now and in the future. She did not observe a decline yet over her lifetime, and we can do our absolute best to keep it that way.

Impressed by an oak leaf

What I also realized this way, is that nature can be in the smallest things – an oak leaf, a bird or a meandering stream. It is not only about the forests or mountains, or the world heritage sites those lucky few on your Instagram feed get to visit. But that’s another thing we asked our 1200 survey respondents: what IS nature to you? Results are mixed: those agricultural landscapes that made me and my baby so thoroughly happy this weekend, would you call those nature? For us, at that moment, it most definitely qualified.

A Flemish agricultural landscape. Nature? Or not? The definition is far from clear on the matter, but dear lord that place was beautiful!

This baby has given me lots already, but one important present is a fresh look on nature around me. I am ready to fight harder than ever before to save this precious resource for her and everybody.

Want to help? You can start by giving us your opinion on your definition of nature (if from Belgium or the Netherlands), via www.natureornot.be!

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3 Responses to A fresh look on nature

  1. Your baby has really grown and looks so sweet. I am not worried about the future. You and many others are working hard to improve our world. Even in my lifetime over here in the States, the air and waterways have been improved. People like you will make the future bright for your baby.

  2. Thanks a lot! I like to belief indeed that we are on a turning point, changing our world for the better again. But lots of work ahead :).

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