By Fran Southgate
Living Landscape Advisor
It was my great pleasure to co create our Landscape Innovation Conference yesterday. There was a fantastic buzz in the room, and despite the sobering content of the subject matter on our sixth mass extinction and the climate crisis, it was very good to see how engaged everyone is in trying to find solutions.
As three hundred delegates filed into the lecture hall, I was filled with a sense of how many of us need to feel that we have some agency over what the future brings. We wanted to bring together people who might not usually work together to generate new and innovative actions, and we had a fantastic mix of people in the room from lawyers and educators to businessmen and farmers.
The Climate and Biodiversity crises are immense topics, and they can feel overwhelming at times. To help focus our thoughts, we chose six key themes of Climate resilience, Natural processes, Food and farming, Resilient communities, Natural Capital and Nature recovery networks.
We had excellent keynote speakers, sharing their passion and inspiration with the conference delegates. The Conference was opened by Youth Biodiversity Advocate, Bella Lack, and we couldn’t have had a better start. The eloquence, poignance, self possession, passion and intellect with which she spoke about wildlife decline had a very clear and visible impact on everyone in the room. It was a lesson to us all in how much we can 'step up' to help make the changes that we all need to counteract the crises we are facing.
Our other speakers included experts on well-being economics, green community building, wilding, nature led recovery, climate action, supporting sustainable food and farming, and working with communities and farmers to deliver gains for people and nature. There was some fascinating content, and some really good discussions came out of our meet the experts and designing futures sessions.
We are incredibly grateful for the reciprocity and generosity which was shown by all involved. We managed to put on the conference at very little cost whilst also supporting young people and community groups to attend the conference for free, and funding 5 community projects to take forward work on climate change and biodiversity in their local community.
One of the key message for the day was that we cannot do this alone. The scale of the crises that we face are such, that we all need to act individually, professionally, and as communities, and act now. This was step one of Sussex Wildlife Trust trying to bring together collaborations on climate change and wildlife, and I look forward to seeing where the conference outcomes take us in the future.
There are times when I feel incredibly privileged to be working with the people that I do. The passion, drive, enthusiasm and willingness to create change amongst the delegates and speakers at the conference was an inspiration in itself.