Photo of common kingfisher flying above river

Earth Day 2020: rediscovering nature

Emily Cooper


There are many articles which suggest that nature is ‘taking back’ our cities. Unfortunately, many of these cases aren’t quite what they seem. While it’s exciting to see roe deer on the streets of London, many of our cities are so nature-deprived that these animals will quickly realise there are no plants to browse on, or clear streams to drink from. In fact, the real story is far more uplifting: we have rediscovered a connection that existed all along.

When life as we know it grinds to a halt, we turn to nature. Shops, gyms, restaurants and cinemas have closed their doors—but like an old friend, nature is always there to welcome us home with open arms. Even those who never thought to seek solace in nature found peace in the forests, by rivers, and in meadows. While our routines and schedules crumble around us, nature is consistent. Reliable.

River cascade stock photo

Many people are discovering wildlife on their doorstep that they never knew existed. As humans, we are obsessed with doing things—but now, we are remembering the joy of just existing in the same space as nature. Without idling engines and planes to drown out their voices, birdsong appears louder than ever. Knowing that we must savour our daily walk, each leaf seems all the more magnificent. We watch from our windows, eagerly counting the signs of spring.

When life goes back to normal—when we find ourselves caught in the rush of urban commutes and office cubicles—let us remember the connection we rediscovered during this crisis. Before we choose a plastic bottle at the shops, let us remember the polluted riverbanks which troubled us during this time. Before we drive to work, let us remember the joys of waking to birdsong rather than roaring engines. Before we strip our gardens of greenery, let us remember the excitement we felt watching the first bumblebees trundle across the sky.

Rather than nature 'taking back' our cities, is it possible that we are learning more about a connection which has always existed? The relationship between humans and nature has been a turbulent one, but this crisis has shown us what is really important. We need to hold on to this relationship, nurture it, and take decisive action to protect it.

This Earth Day, we want to encourage you to treasure the relationship we have with nature. Whether that's through joining in with our #RiverWatch hashtag, designed to help us all stay connected to nature during these uncertain times, or simply by sitting in your garden and taking in some fresh air. If you're stuck inside but want to engage with nature, we have a list of resources ready and waiting for you.

We want to make sure that rivers always act as a comforting, peaceful place for people to spend time. If you'd like to support us in this mission, please consider making a small donation. Whether you choose to make a one-off contribution or commit to a small monthly sum, every single penny makes a huge difference.

Donate now

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This article was supported by the NSR Interreg project, WaterCoG.
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