What gives you hope for the future?
As you probably know all too well, the struggle to protect nature can be disheartening at times. Whether it’s a disappointing political decision, a species in decline or an extreme weather event; the seemingly unending supply of bad news isn’t great for morale.
By Jeremy Herry
As a consequence, it can be easy for people to fall victim to doomism: to be so overwhelmed by despair that they feel they should just give up.
But we cannot let that happen. Apathy and inaction, induced by the false belief that an impending apocalypse is inevitable, are just as dangerous as science denial.
And we cannot forget that there is reason for hope! We all need to understand that the world can change for the better, and that despite the destruction, as long as there’s a bird out there singing, that bird needs protection!
Our BirdLife Partners across Europe and Central Asia are out on the field every day, fighting to save our planet. So we asked them: what gives you hope for the future? Here is a selection of the answers they provided. Hopefully, their answers can help inspire you to get up in the morning and keep up the good fight too.
What gives me hope for the future? Seeing, without fail, the disbelief, then the excitement, then the respect in the faces of people who have just learned that a Common Swift can spend years in flight without ever landing, and knowing in that moment that these small birds have inspired them to treat our world better and no longer to take nature for granted. It’s like flicking a switch.
Niall Hatch, Head of Communications & Development, BirdWatch Ireland
Image credit: photo by Travis Blessing
The best way to describe what gives me hope is by telling you about a small boy who didn’t want to be at our event – he thought nature was scary. We got him to look for some cool minibeasts with us and explained to him that they don’t hurt us. After a few scary moments, he got excited to find out what was under the next rock. This is what gives me hope. Children and their excitement to learn, adapt, and explore.
Abbie Ferrar, Education Officer, BirdLife Malta
My aunt died last year. At her online funeral, I learnt that before her illness, she had befriended a blackbird that came to perch on her hand each morning in the garden. Shortly before she died, she went to the garden to say goodbye and thanks to her feathered companion. Nature is a vital source of comfort and wonder; we cannot give up on it!
David Howell, Climate and Energy Advisor, SEO/BirdLife Spain
Living in a migration bottleneck along one of the world’s greatest flyways, migration through Israel gives me hope. Despite all the damage done to the Earth, these amazing birds show resilience and persistence. True, there are declines and changes. However, there are still migration spectacles to be seen, reminding us that when we give nature the chance, by habitat protection and restoration of lost systems, birds bounce back.
Dr. Yoav Perlman, Science Director, SPNI/BirdLife Israel
For us, happiness is when, every spring, we see birds return to their breeding habitats after their long journeys, and we can see that our – sometimes really difficult – conservation work to restore natural habitats are worth the effort.
Zuzana Lackovičová, SOS/BirdLife Slovakia
Two things give me hope: firstly, nature responding positively to the opportunities we give her. Over and over again. The fact that enigmatic animals such as Common Cranes and wolves can feel at home even in an area as densely populated as Flanders gives me hope. Secondly, that more and more people are touched by nature and want to make space for it in their lives and their vision of society. The discussion is no longer about the need for more nature, but about the way to get there.
Jos Ramaekers, Diensthoofd Beleid, Natuurpunt
When you feel pessimistic, lose hope and feel tired after tons of hours of field work or deskwork, remember that there are kids who dream of safe flyways for wild birds, kids that hope for safe habitats for wildlife. These kids depend on us and we depend on them to safeguard our future!
Roula Trigou, Head of Communications & Awareness, HOS/BirdLife Greece
BirdLife Hungary has a new Youth Department for the 16-30 year-olds. I was invited to their founding event, which was a team building weekend. It was inspiring to see how knowledgeable and enthusiastic these 17-20 year-old “kids” were, talking and identfying bugs, birds, and plants like pros, forgetting about their phones and social media updates, just enjoying themselves in nature. If there will be such a thing as nature conservation in the future, it will be in good hands!
Petra Vásony, Communications Officer, BirdLife Hungary
For us here in Serbia, nature and bird conservation is mostly working with people. We are working very hard to reach more people and to include them in our projects and programs. Making people believe in conservation gives us hope and strength for the future.
Milan Ružić, Executive Director, Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia
Thousands of members and donors supporting our work for birds and the environment. Their trust, enthusiasm, warm words… they believe in us, they want us to protect birds on their behalf and we do not want to disappoint them.
Lucie Hoskova, Deputy director for Fundraising, Czech Society for Ornithology
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Today, BirdLife International released the European Red List of Birds 2021. The Red List reviews the regional extinction risk of 544 bird species in over 50 countries and territories in Europe and follows the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria applied at regional level. Each species extinction risk is evaluated from ‘Least Concern’ to ‘Extinct’.
Close to where I live in Cambridgeshire, in the East of England, is one of my favourite nature reserves – Ouse Fen. It is a classic reedbed with bitterns booming and marsh harrier gliding gracefully overhead.
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