As this is my first blog of 2017, let me wish you all a happy and nature-filled new year.
It is, in fact, my first blog in almost three months, breaking the pattern of fortnightly blogs very comprehensively.
During the gap in my blogging, my wife and I were very caught up in the business of downsizing and moving from our home of 55 years to an apartment in a retirement village. We left behind our much-loved garden and fernery, but have pleasant greenish outlooks and two balcony gardens to compensate.
If the whole truth be told, the distraction of the move coincided with a spot of “blogger’s block”. During the past three or so years, I have always been able to source inspiration for my blogs from news items, life events, people or scientific reports concerned with biophilia or related topics. By November of 2016, my sources appeared to have dried up (from my viewpoint at least).
Hopefully, 2017 will see the streams flowing again.
A recent newspaper report about how Finland intends to commemorate a significant national anniversary is a promising start. It seems that the whole of Finland is preparing to celebrate nature as a central part of the country’s Centennial Jubilee.
Since 2013, Finns have celebrated their connection with nature on a Nature Day held in the height of summer on the last Saturday in August. In the centenary year of 2017, there will be three added Nature Days: the first in February to encourage Finns to revel in winter wonderlands; the second in June when spring will be wholeheartedly embraced; and the third in June when everyone will be urged to enjoy the long summer nights – by sleeping outdoors if possible.
On the traditional Nature Day in August, the Finnish flag will be flown in “honour of the country’s natural environment”, making Finland the first country in the world to acknowledge its natural scenic and recreational resources in this way. Nine out of ten Finns support celebrating their natural heritage as part of their country’s centennial jubilee. About 50 organisations are co-operating.
One aim of the Nature Day campaign is to have the Finnish flag in as many places as possible including on nature trails and as decorations for hiking food. A host of activities is planned or being promoted, including choral concerts in all 40 national parks and “dinners under the sky” in natural settings. There is a strong push, as well, to have people organise independent events such as inviting family and friends to have a campfire meal, accompanying an elderly person on a parkland walk or arranging family reunions in natural settings.
Apart from fostering national pride and nature awareness, the Nature Day campaign also aims to promote conservation and encourage nature play in children, both areas requiring attention despite the Finns’ relatively strong physical and psychological affinity with nature as expressed in the philosophy of frlluftsliv – “free air life”.
Quite rightly, Nature Day is attracting a great deal of international interest. Finland is greatly favoured by an abundance of beautiful landscapes and the drama of radically changing seasons, but it is not unique as far as having natural assets is concerned. Even the most densely populated countries on the planet have their wild and urban green spaces.
I believe that the concept of Nature Day could be made to work almost everywhere. All that is required is the spark of enthusiastic leadership and the active support of community organisations, the media and government agencies. Look what has happened to the Clean-up Australia day movement. From small-scale beginnings, it has grown to become a model for similar campaigns in other countries.
A local council, service group such as Rotary or Lions Club, church or school could get the ball rolling. This could be even better perhaps than having the lead come from the state or national government.
I would love to receive comments about the idea. Why not suggest a Nature Day activity that could be easily undertaken a family, neighbourhood group or community.