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A breath of fresh air during social isolation

 

”I’ve cycled the Darebin Creek Trail and stopped to walk and reflect on the Spiritual Healing Trail – the Wurundjeri people’s reconciliation gift to the local community. I’ve noticed kookaburras. I’ve collected rubbish from the creek. I’ve replanted my garden with native species, including edibles.” 

 

Lilydale Warburton trail at sunrise. Photograph by Jun Sawa

Within days of COVID-imposed social isolation, I was feeling like a caged animal, metaphorically climbing the walls of my home office.

 

Aside from connecting with loved ones on Zoom, getting out of the house has been my most treasured part of the day. And one of the silver linings of being confined to my immediate neighbourhood has been the chance to explore my local natural environment, slowing down and taking the time to notice the little things.

 

It is this concept of taking #TimeForNature that the UN has embraced for World Environment Day 2020, selecting biodiversity as its unifying theme. Biodiversity is the delicate web of interactions within and between plants and animals that maintains life on earth.

 

My ANZ colleagues have been sharing how the natural environment has helped them thrive during COVID. For Jun Sawa, an avid photographer, the forests of Warburton in Victoria have helped him stay creative. Jeff Elliott’s flowering gum provides a backdrop for his teleconferences. Employee Journey Expert, Methika Yanes exercises in her local park, and AgriBusiness Associate Director Alanna Barrett and her family enjoy exploring wombat holes and looking for treasure on her farm.

My time for nature

 

During my COVID lockdown, I’ve watched the gum blossoms bloom and heard the wild chorus of rainbow lorikeets feasting on the nectar. I’ve closely monitored the fruiting fig trees on our median strip, waiting for the right moment to forage (before the birds beat me to it!).

 

I’ve cycled the Darebin Creek Trail and stopped to walk and reflect on the Spiritual Healing Trail – the Wurundjeri people’s reconciliation gift to the local community. I’ve noticed kookaburras. I’ve collected rubbish from the creek. I’ve replanted my garden with native species, including edibles.

 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the environmental challenges we face, but if COVID-19 has taught us anything it is the truth of our interdependency. Our willingness to socially isolate has been an act of compassion and sacrifice. We can do the same when it comes to environmental sustainability. Our thriving depends on it.

 

When I can volunteer again, I will revisit Mount Rothwell Estate, a private predator-free conservation reserve between Melbourne and Geelong dedicated to habitat restoration and native fauna re-establishment. They conduct research and breeding programs for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, the Southern Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and the Eastern Quoll. Quite apart from preventing mass extinctions, native species can provide natural pest management and improve soil quality.

 

Connecting with the natural world inspires awe and gives us a sense of being connected with something much larger than ourselves. It is a powerful antidote to anxiety and depression and a necessary precondition to the hard, important work of protecting and restoring our environment.

 

On this World Environment Day, what will you do to take time for nature?

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