Celebrating the Natural World

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” – Edward Abbey

New seasons have arrived for all of us. For some parts of the world, spring has arrived. April brings with it the expectation of new life all around us – from the flowers, trees and fields to newborn wildlife and farm animals. We breathe in the fresh air and take in the scented buds that turn to leaves, as warmer weather approaches. For others, it is now Autumn which arrives with vibrant colors and beautiful weather and many of us can’t put a camera down until the last leaf has fallen. We focus this month on celebrating not only this natural world around us in whatever season we are in, but also the 51st anniversary of Earth Day and Nature First’s second anniversary. 

Fox family that denned in my backyard

We focus this month on why nature is so important to us. Why do we love it and need it so much? Most of us would agree with the quote above by Edward Abbey about the necessity of wilderness and nature. As nature photographers, nature is part of who we are and a lot of us feel like we can’t be separated from it. We started our discussion about this topic by asking our staff, advocates and members why nature is so important to them. Here are some of the excellent answers we received:

“There is something strangely captivating about the landscape; the open horizons, soaring mountains, thundering rivers and lush valleys seep into you with each encounter. Curiosity sucks at your consciousness until you become restless, longing for the rhythms and dangers associated with the living presence of this world. The land makes us who we are – we are part of the land, as it is part of us”. – Serena Dzenis, Nature First Member & Australian photographer based in Iceland 

“There are many places we can go and things we can do that offer us enjoyment, relaxation, adventure, even catharsis. Nature is uncommon – perhaps unique – in its capacity to be a restorative experience, to heal our broken pieces, to make us whole. I love that I can go into nature with very few expectations but always leave with many rewards. Nature provides an essential counterbalance to an increasingly chaotic world and often hectic pace of life. Few things offer us so much while asking so little of us in return. Nature doesn’t even ask that we respect or protect it, which is why our humble efforts at Nature First are so important – we have to develop our own commitment to stewardship in order to protect the very thing that nurtures and mends us.” – Rick Dunn, Senior Director, Nature First Staff 

“When we talk about nature being important to us, it seems to imply that ‘nature’ is something outside of us. But we ARE nature, we’re an integral part of it (even if we do tend to forget this). I think understanding how interconnected we are with the rest of nature is an important key to understanding how to behave when we’re out in nature.” – Madeleine Lenagh, Nature First Advocate for the Netherlands and Belgium. 

“The more time I’ve spent in nature, the more I’ve come to realize that we are intrinsically connected: There is no separation between us. When we understand this, we understand that everything is in its right place. When we lose our connection to nature, we also lose connection to ourselves.” – Viktoria Haack, Nature First Member and British photographer in Canada

Nature is important for conserving nature. This sounds like a strange thing to say, but I think if someone hasn’t been immersed in nature, they are less likely to care about conservation, preservation and climate change. When one is exposed to nature, their stewardship of the natural world is nourished. Nature literally inspires people to protect nature, which is what I meant by ‘Nature is important for conserving nature.’ More must be done to ensure that the next generation is exposed to nature, otherwise I fear they may never truly care for it. – James Lane, Nature First member from England 

Nature inspires me to get out and disconnect from all the chaos in our everyday lives and when I come back, I feel the most connected to everything.” Chrissy Donadi, Nature First Advocate for the Northeastern United States

We are also excited for April as it brings Earth Day and the second anniversary of Nature First! We are so thankful for all of you who have joined us as members and in volunteer roles with our organization. While starting any movement takes time, at our two-year mark, we are seeing the movement really take off exponentially. So, this month we celebrate all that is nature and Earth Day! Nature First is an official partner organization with EarthDay.org and we look forward to sharing more information about this important annual event with you throughout the month. Let’s all enjoy the new season we are in and continue to protect the natural environment around us as we photograph.