It’s time for us to take our foot off nature’s neck

Lifestyle

It’s time for us to take our foot off nature’s neck

Covid-19 is giving nature an opportunity to breathe and us a chance to re-evaluate our relationship with it

Dianne Tipping-Woods

“I think the tourism businesses that make it [post-Covid] will be the ones that are true to their values, the ones that understand and value the relationship between their people, animals and our wild landscapes. We need to not just turn to nature, but to rediscover ourselves in it. Think of this in the context of climate instability, human arrogance and how urgent this has all become in the face of Covid 19.”

As SA thinks about reopening domestic, then international, travel, there is a powerful lesson in the words of poet, psychiatrist and wilderness advocate Ian McCallum for the travel industry and industry in general. Just as the death of American George Floyd has highlighted systemic racism, his desperate words, “I can’t breathe”, have taken on a symbolism that speaks to the way we are treating the natural environment.

Pre-Covid, over-tourism was straining cities and natural attractions, with development strangling what was left of our wild spaces. McCallum cites cities such as Venice, where in the past few decades local people and wildlife have been forced out by a barrage of visitors. Since lockdown, the water has cleared, the air is clean and the city can breathe again. “There is a cry from the earth itself: ‘I can’t breathe’...

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