Nature has been designing, building and innovating for billions of years and has so much to teach us. The extent to which we have unveiled nature’s intelligence and capability is the tip of the iceberg.
In 2018 alone, the Natural History Museum’s 300 scientists discovered 272 new species to add to Earth’s tree of life. However, many children are suffering from a lack of engagement with nature, according to the National Trust’s Natural Childhood study.
Imagine if your primary school teacher had explained how trees speak to each other, sharing sugar and carbon between species along their roots via a network of fungi that connects the entire forest. Or, that a male peacock feather carries only brown pigment and all those vibrant blues, greens and golds are created by structural shapes and how they play with light. Imagine your doctor prescribing a walk in the forest to cure depression, lower your blood pressure or strengthen your immune system.
The natural world holds so many fascinating secrets, and there are countless creatures that need a voice.
This is why we have launched our ‘EcoTales Warrior’ initiative, open to children from all over the world. We hope it will encourage children to write their own stories and design their very own EcoTales characters that sing about the genius of nature, reveal the magic at play in the natural world around us, and inspire us all to look after the very nature we derive from.
Our main objective is to encourage future generations to connect with nature and investigate that aspect of the wild that really ignites their enthusiasm. From confused whales struggling to hear each other over the sounds of shipping propellers, to the ingenious way in which tiny insects turn sunlight into electrical energy, the options are endless.
Take the ‘Taraxacum officinale’ or common dandelion as an example. Is it a pestilent weed that ruins the sleek look of any beautifully manicured lawn?
Our EcoTales character, ‘Professor Flora’, would simply not agree! She certainly wouldn’t dream of decapitating one let alone rip it from the ground without purpose. ‘Professor Flora’ uses the milky juice extracted from its root as a powerful ingredient for detoxifying the liver.
‘Queenie’ knows that her early rising queen bees rely on the dandelion’s succulent blend of pollen and nectar in early spring, when other flowers are still to bloom.
It is an exciting time to launch our EcoTales Warrior initiative because there is an appetite for change. The shift has already begun to trickle in through multiple channels and creative ideas. In the words of Sir David Attenborough during his moving speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019, “movements and ideas can spread at astonishing speed”.
As part of the movement for a reconnected, harmonious relationship with nature, we hope our stories and projects will inspire children to grow into adults who see the true value of nature, and like our EcoTales biomimicry inventor ‘Zero Impact’, take time to look to the natural world for inspiration and solution. After all, its highly likely nature has beaten you to it!
Our species has evolved a culture of otherness with the wild world. We overlook the fact that we rely on its carefully designed cycles and balance for our very existence. Instead we stand by and watch its destruction and through our daily consumer choices, we even help to fund it. Our forgetfulness is dangerous. We must wake up.
We are looking to engage children in this opportunity and want their help with completing our cast and their amazing ideas for future stories. We would love to take our self funded project into schools, so if anyone has advice on how best to align with the curriculum and inspire teachers it would be great to hear from you.
We are also open to discussions with likeminded fellows who are interested in standing up and making a real difference. Remember, together we can save nature!
A new CEO, a new format and new ideas – Andy Haldane marked his first day as head of the RSA in September with our first virtual Fellowship Townhall.