Today I’m picking up a principle from The Tree Charter – Sustain Landscapes Rich in Wildlife. You can read more about it here – https://treecharter.uk/principles-nature.html
When there’s scope to make money for humans, we’re all too quick to cut down trees, grub out hedges and remove wildlife corridors. We have not recognised rich landscapes as a good in their own right and we haven’t even recognised that rich landscapes are better for us.
There’s a really good article here about American studies into the benefits of urban trees – https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20323/trees/577/the_benefits_of_urban_trees. We are better people when we live with trees. We treat each other better. Trees make us better humans, while sterile, human-made but actually inhuman landscapes make us into our worst selves.
I haven’t picked up any links for this, but I gather from the Woodland Trust’s Broadleaf magazine that studies are under way into what happens when you have more trees around crops – and the answer is that you sustain the insects who predate other insects, and you get a more self-sustaining system. Richness and diversity in the landscape means viable eco-systems which in turn means a better environment for us. There’s nothing self-indulgent or ‘hippy’ about protecting the environment and all that lives in it – this is self preservation. A sterile environment will not support us.
The word ‘rich’ is important here, I think. Humans tend to think of richness in terms of money. A human-centric view focusing on something that is of no use in itself and that only works if it can be traded for something usable. However, environmental richness cannot be amassed as a private resource in the same way. The richness of insect populations and of birds, the richness we gain from clean air and water – these are essential. The richness of life itself is something that should be available to all of us to enjoy, and that should not be destroyed for the short term profits of the few.
If we invested in the idea of environmental richness in the same way we, as a species, have invested in the idea of financial richness, we would soon stop making such a mess of things. We’re squandering bounty because we can’t see its worth. The richness of the soil when it is full of micro-organisms. The richness of oceans teeming with fish. The richness of insect life. This is real wealth. It is the wealth that could sustain us all, and without it we cannot flourish. Invest in landscapes if you want real riches.