Red Squirrel

Squirrel

Squirrel

In the UK, unfortunately the red squirrel is now relatively rare, being out-competed by the grey squirrel who feeds more effectively and also carries the squirrel poxvirus which doesn’t seem to affect the greys but is lethal to the reds.

Conservation work is ongoing to save the red squirrel for instance by providing better habitats. One of the places involved in this work, hosting around 50 percent of the native UK squirrel population is Kielder Water & Forest Park http://www.visitkielder.com/

I’d like to visit that place some time and if I had the option to ask them some of my student question that would be great. Maybe I should do my next project on squirrels?

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Views of Nature

Hans Fink, in ‘Nature Through Western Eyes’, talks about different views of nature. Let me share them with you:

The Wild
Nature is that which is not culture, it’s the things that are untouched by humans, the uncultivated land. It relates, in a way, to the neolithic pioneer farmer who fenced in parts of nature and cultivated it. Nature is all that he hasn’t touched.

It might be hard to find any nature anymore when using this perspective.

The Rural and the Green
Nature is the thing that is outside the big cities and the farm land which would be culture according to the previous view is now part of the green land where we spend summers, leisure time and trot along nature trails. This view of nature seems to be a child of industrialisation – we romanticise that which we left behind.

The environment
Nature is everything that is ‘not us’, the things that are out there, and there is a duty for us to take care of nature, nature views become normative, we are stewards and custodians. This view of nature can be linked to conservation movements and the aim is to not affect nature too much.

The physical
Nature is that which obeys the laws of nature as opposed to the metaphysical things. One day, we will have understood things well enough that everything can be put in this category. This view of nature has traits of enlightenment, is what we would normally call scientific and sees nature as inanimate.

The Earthly
Nature is the non-divine and the non-demonic. It is the creation made by a creator, and is everything that is not magical. It is that which can be seen. Humans have a special role in this understanding of nature, because we have been created in Gods image, or hold certain mediator functions.

The Whole
Nature is all of the above, but nature is also all of the other things. You cannot have anything without it being nature – if it exists, it is nature. We often think that our relationship with nature is broken, but it is not possible, we are in nature and nature is in us. Instead, it is likely that it is our thoughts that play tricks on us when we think we can escape nature, be above it, or apart from it. Nature is holistic and talking about non-nature is really quite absurd.

Hans Fink says that while everything is nature, that does not mean that what we do with it is without consequence. Quite the opposite. But once a choice is made, that choice is ‘natural’, because from that moment on, it exists, as a fact and by virtue of existing and being real, it is part of ‘it all’, it’s now nature.

Eco Tourism

In Natural Heritage, we have to do evaluations of different countries and their experience with Eco Tourism. I will be trying to find a country in the East Asia/Pacific area to work on. I think it will be very interesting. It’s an almost impossible thing to get right – when someone turns up at a destination with their big boots and high expectations, nature and culture of the host country will often suffer – at least unless you have a strategy for how to make tourism sustainable – not only with regards to the environment but also taking into account the culture and peoples, the load on the area, how demand can so easily drive supply of things we actually should not introduce into fragile systems….

It will be an interesting little extra project to do, guided by Martha Honeys book about Eco Tourism.

Literature

You can never have too much knowledge, I feel.

Often this education offers tasters or summaries of works across many fields. I like the many faces of this professional degree and the broad overview, but often I want more. I want the details too, the indepth look at a single sociologist, a proper look at the hermeneutics, a waltz with the politics around nature protection.

As there is no one to prevent me from making the most of my time while having access to some really nice libraries and databases while being surrounded by plenty of people and thus opportunities to discuss things, I thought I would make my own literature list and my own goals alongside the official ones.

That should keep me busy for a while.