A vision for a wilder Nottinghamshire

Ellen Bradley

As we launch our vision for a Wilder Nottinghamshire, Keeping it Wild youth team member, Charlotte Jones, reflects on her experience at the Wilder Woodland Gathering, and how it has given her hope in a time of environmental tragedy.

Wildlife is in freefall. We are facing an ecological crisis. Runaway climate change is dangerously close to becoming a reality. It’s all a bit overwhelming isn’t it?

The messages about our climate crisis are dismal, and it’s important we take on board the severity of the situation. But after attending Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Wilder Woodland Gathering, I realised there’s far more reason for hope than despair.

The family fun day, held at Skylarks Nature Reserve, formed part of the charity’s Wilder Future Campaign. It explains why we need to make Nottinghamshire a wilder place for people and wildlife and how all of us can do our bit to make that happen.

Keeping it Wild fox den zone at the Wilder Woodland Gathering

Sarah Bowler

I am a member of Keeping it Wild, the Trust’s youth team. It’s the first time in my 25 years I have found other people who are interested in nature and consider it to be an integral part of their day to day life. It’s the first time I have ever felt part of a community.

The Trust explains that we need to create a Nature Recovery Network if our wildlife is to thrive. But I believe that we need a Nature Recovery Network for humans too. We need a community where people can share their passion, knowledge and concerns in order to support each other through the highs and lows as we work to make Nottinghamshire wilder.

I felt like I found that network, that community, at the Wilder Woodland Gathering. Surrounded by people with a passion for the environment, knowing I was in the company of fellow wildlife lovers I have never felt more hopeful for the future. It’s that network, that collaborative working if you will, that will see us make significant changes. Because we are more powerful together than we are alone.

Wilder Woodland Gathering debate panel

Wilder Woodland Gathering debate panel including Keeping it Wild's Charlotte Jones

People of all different ages and backgrounds approached me during the Gathering, and that variety is what made the event so unique. Of course, there were many professionals from the environmental sector in attendance. These people have a strong understanding of the issues we face and what needs to happen in order for things to change. But the professionals alone will never have a big enough impact.

Research shows 25% of the population needs to be behind any large scale social change. That means we need to educate, encourage and celebrate people who are making the effort to make Nottingham wilder. In order to make a difference, we all need to work together, and support each other.

Keeping it Wild at the Wilder Woodland Gathering

Mia, Alex and Iona from Keeping it Wild at the Wilder Woodland Gathering

There were plenty of young people at the Gathering, such as myself. It is perhaps the most frustrating age in regards to the climate crisis. Old enough to be acutely aware of the devastation, but too young and inexperienced to exert as much influence on the movers and shakers. But that’s exactly why the Wilder Woodland Gathering was so important. It exposed all of us at Keeping it Wild to people with our liked-minded passion, who cared as much about the environment as we do. We met other people in the industry and learned about all the different ways others are making a difference. We will all go on to work in a variety of fields. Alex is an engineer, Iona is about to study geography at Oxford University and Joseph aspires to be the Secretary of State! They are all roles where we have the power to encourage people to live wilder, more eco-friendly lives, and make Nottinghamshire and the world a wilder place.

Then there’s the kids. Keeping it Wild ran the Fox Den, full of forest themed fun for youngsters. There were plenty of smiles, happy shrieks and lots of laughter. The slacklining went down a storm! As kids grow, they will remember the days when they enjoyed wild spaces, climbing trees, jumping in puddles, kicking their way through crunchy leaves. Children who grow up enjoying nature are more likely to become adults who think it’s worth saving. I heard no end of parents saying how much fun their kids were having. I hoped watching their children enjoy wild spaces would inspire them to fight for a wilder world for future generations.

There is a lot of talk about how young people are going to change the world. But by the time we’re old enough to have a significant influence it will be too late. We need adults to make changes now, to create a wilder future for their children. If not, it will be gone forever.

As I said before, the situation is bleak. But I came away from the Wilder Woodland Gathering knowing that the more we grow this Nature Recovery Network of people with a shared passion, drive and determination, the more likely we are to encourage more people to live wilder lives.

The Gathering left me feeling proud of Nottinghamshire’s nature lovers, reassured by people sharing their common thoughts and feelings, and hopeful that through collaboration and determination, Nottingham has a wilder future.

Read Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts Wilder Future document

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust can support working with young people such as the Keeping it Wild youth team thanks to support from players of People's Postcode Lottery.