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Mind Your Language

30 September 2011 | Posted in Living Landscapes

Author Henri Brocklebank

Fledglings / Peter Femto

When I explain to my friends about Living Landscapes they generally say ‘hey that sounds good’, ‘that makes sense’. In a nutshell, as non-conservationists they simply ‘get’ what its all about. Nature reserves are crucially important but we are thinking beyond their boundaries, we need larger areas if our species are to survive, we need larger areas if habitats are to function naturally and we need larger areas if we expect our natural areas to provide the services that we take for granted like clean water etc. In fact Sussex Wildlife Trust shares this basic message with children across Sussex daily and they ‘get it’ too. ‘Bigger, better and more joined up’ has become the mantra of Living Landscapes and it does what it says on the tin.

Its pretty straightforward stuff and as such the Living Landscape message has been accepted and adopted widely across the UK thanks to the hard work of hundreds of people across the Wildlife Trust movement. But sometimes we still struggle with the language we are using, making straightforward ecological concepts sound inaccessibly academic. We have a tendency to dip into ‘eco-speak’ and start using terminology and phrases that leave people flummoxed, when what we are actually explaining in incredibly simple! Well, its just going to have to stop! We need to be understood clearly.

Following on from the recently published Natural Environment White Paper new groups called Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) are being established. We have had many partnerships talking about wildlife over the past decade, but this time its got to be different. The new LNPs will not be purely focussed on biodiversity interest. They take us out of our comfort zone, embracing organisations and sectors that we have not worked with before. These partnerships will bring together representatives from the wildlife, health, economic, business and landowning sectors and more. We need to ensure that our message about the value of our natural areas (including wildlife) are easily understood and accepted. That our agenda, of ‘bigger better and more joined up’ is fully taken on and not lost in technical terminology. We need to explain the value of ecosystems in a way that can create the paradigm shift that we all need in people’s understanding of our natural world.

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