Great organisations like WWF and Greenpeace and many more do wonderful work to get people concerned for nature conservation. In spite of years of committed work in this area the great majority of people, if not hostile to conservation, are at best indifferent. And because of this indifference species are slipping away to extinction.
We no longer have the luxury of time on our side. So what if conservation groups were to join together in a world-wide event for nature that would involve many hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously – that surely would put nature conservation high up in people’s awareness? Fine – so what could we do?
What we should do would involve children. Why? Because children, in time, will be the next generation who will have to confront conservation issues probably even more urgent that the problems we have today. If we can instill in children a conservation ethic and an understanding of what is required we will have done a great thing indeed. So what might we do?
We might create the first Children-of-the-World Nature Reserve. This would be a reserve created by coins and other small change from children from around the world. The reserve would be ‘owned’ by children. Millions of children who had donated coins to this project would go to bed at night knowing that there was a special place for animals and birds and butterflies in the world that they had helped to create. That would be a great thing.
The reserve would be managed on behalf of the children by professional parks people. It should likely be established in a tropical or in a semi-tropical location where biodiversity is particularly high. It would need to be in a place that was politically stable and of relative ease of access if children are to visit.
A crucial understanding in the running of this special nature reserve is that through the internet and newsletters and other means of communications that the millions of children who ‘own’ the reserve would be informed about news events in their reserve. They might be told of the hatching of turtles or the discovery of a new species of butterfly or the first recorded sighting of a rare bird in the reserve. They would learn too what is required to manage such a place and they would get some understanding of the requirements if wild things are to survive and of the importance of the protection of habitats.
The key value in all of this is that when these children, in their millions, grow to adulthood they will take with them a far more mature and informed attitude to what is required if we are to accommodate other species on this planet. This heightened awareness will, in time, be carried by these new adults into business decisions and into political decisions – all to the benefit of nature. Done on such a scale where the children of the whole world become involved will also galvanise adults too to reflect on the need to change our behaviour in many issues if species are not to become extinct.
Yes, such a great undertaking will require considerable organisation. But clearly at this stage nothing less than an event on a world-wide scale is now needed to shake us out of our complacency. This could be a wonderfully mad undertaking with many organisations coming together to make it happen. I know we could do it. It only takes excitement and a sense of fun to visualize what would be involved in this.
The first step would be to establish an Organizing Committee who would draw this idea out further. Beside one or two key conservationists the committee would need on board hard-nosed managers and high-profile political figures to open doors to governments to seed the idea further. High profile entertainers would be encouraged to lend their names and help in other ways too to advertise what the event is about and to further generate enthusiasm.
Children’s TV personalities and school teachers would be enormously helpful in explaining to children why they should help in bringing such a special nature reserve into existence.
No money collected from children should be used for anything except for the creation of the reserve. That means that all necessary expenses that will be incurred outside that must be covered by other means. Altruistic rich people who have a deep interest in nature conservation might be a possibility.
This, in broad-strokes, is an idea that if taken on board by conservation groups would, as a world event, drive forward a conservation ethic that we have not experience to date. In its scale it could be an enormous wake-up call around the world that something needs to be done by the world’s people if nature is to be protected.
I am convinced that we could do it. I would like to hear your comments to see where we might take this idea further.