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Month: March 2017

My Relationship With Nature

My Relationship With Nature

Submitted by: Joseph

When I think of how I related to nature, I trace my life back to childhood. I spent most of my early life living on a number of isolated acreages across Alberta and Saskatchewan, as my father uprooted us from one place to another in search of work or living space. Many of these acreages had access to winding brush forests, hilly cattle pastures or shallow, mysterious sloughs. My brothers and  and I learned from an early age that having a large area of wild nature to ramble through, range about and explore, is an invaluable experience. I felt connected to the world around me as we explored and walked, watching for interesting birds or animals, picking wild flowers, or simply examining the frantic, tiny worlds of the ant hills or the grub communities of insects to be found under rocks and deadfall logs.

These wandering adventures instilled both a fascination for the natural world and a concern for the health of our environment in me that have endured to my adulthood. I feel that the environment is important to me, to all of us, for so many reasons. It connects us to nature and to each other. It is the great provider and teacher. Here in Alberta, so much of our agriculture and economic prosperity relies on a healthy natural environment, and too often I feel that we take this state of nature for granted. I believe it is necessary for our government to think carefully about how best to both use, preserve and maintain the health of our environment here in Canada.

Public parks are well and good, but there is something so much more fulfilling, at least for me, in a long walk in rough and untended nature. I would hate to see future generations deprived of the simple joys of a long walk in the wild, finding burrs clinging their socks, seeing deer cautiously graving, hearing the unrestrained chorus of frogs in the pondwaters, or watching the proud hawk soar through the sky above, seeing a landscape not yet fully dominated by human civilization and watching us below with fierce, unreadable eyes.

The environment is connected to us all, whether we think so or not, and that applies to those who come after us as well. I know I will look forward to teaching my children to enjoy time outside and hopefully help them to connect with nature like I was able to in m own childhood. It’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

 

Wilderness in Switzerland

Wilderness in Switzerland

Submitted by: M. Grün

Switzerland is a small country with an amazing landscape that might look adventurous on postcards, but in reality is not as wild as one might think. There is no wilderness in Switzerland.

I live in Visp, which lies in one of the most remote areas in Switzerland. In the 1970’s some of the valleys and villages had still not been connected with modern infrastructure networks such as streets, railways or airports. People were not able to leave the valley except on narrow streets through the mountains. They lived in natural rhythms, laboured their grounds and had few contacts with the outside world. This lifestyle seems to go on today in the eyes of the masses of tourist who come to our area. Even today, there are wild wolves living close to villages. But the population all over Switzerland is increasing and the density of houses and blocks is rising. The so called “wilderness” I live next to is nothing but a carefully maintained image with the goal to attract visitors and adventurers.

The Alps as a geological and biological sphere have been massively shaped by humans. Thanks to the many farmers who bring their cattle to fields on different mountain levels according to the season, hillsides spare erosion. Their contribution to the biosphere is highly valued and pursued by the Swiss government, who subsidizes this tradition and by this contribution finances a whole sector of local agriculture. this keeps the landscape in a “human” shape. The shape – which consists of cleared meadows, cleared forests, hiking trails and infrastructure in the mountains like streets and trails, is perceived by outsiders as wilderness – simply because they do not see a house anywhere. but it is not. There is rarely a valley that is not inhabited. Huts for alpinists are often as well equipped as hostels or even hotels. The telecommunication system covers every space – you can call somebody abroad from a mountain peak.

Switzerland is a small country compared to Canada – a high percentage of people shares infrastructures and living space. As a consequence, even the wilderness becomes subject to further cultivation and human involvement to a degree that has been increasing in the last decades – mainly for touristic and economic reasons.