Protecting Local Natural Reserves with the Rights of Nature Movement

By Elf

Multiple hands on a tree trunk of a native UK tree

Celebrating Stewardship and Working Together for Environmental Change

As awareness of the environmental crisis and the importance of protecting the natural world grows, many individuals and communities are searching for ways to get involved and make a difference. We are at a critical juncture in the history of our planet. For countless generations, the Earth has provided us with the resources we need to survive and thrive. We share the Earth with innumerable other forms of life, each of which has the right to exist and flourish. We must recognise that the natural systems that sustain us are not just resources to be exploited, but are living, breathing entities that deserve our protection, respect, and care.

We must find ways to cooperate and defend the Rights of Nature as industry and corporations continue to deplete the planet’s resources. The Rights of Nature idea encourages a relationship between humans and nature that is beneficial for both, where people recognize and cherish nature as a living thing and treat it accordingly. By putting more focus on the intrinsic value of natural systems and their non-human inhabitants, the recognition of the Rights of Nature can change how extractive operations are carried out. This could result in tighter oversight and regulation of extractive sectors like mining and logging, as well as giving communities a legal foundation to protect their shared lands and resources. As long as we continue to damage the natural systems that support us, we risk endangering the survival of our species. We also imperil countless other species with extinction through our wanton disregard for nature. The health of the earth is intrinsically linked to the health of human society.

Tireless Campaigners in Preservation

At ELF, we have spent the last 30 years working on some amazing cases that locals have brought forward to safeguard their natural environments. ELF has so many remarkable examples of local people making a difference in the natural places that they love and wish to protect. More often by participating actively in decisions being taken that will have impacts on those cherished nature spaces. These are complex and difficult processes that laypeople involve themselves in, against the odds of monetary inequality.

One such example is the community of Borehamwood which has been fighting to save Woodcock Hill Village Green and Wildlife Site for over two years. In 2006, the village green was registered with the government, and the local people have since been doing their part to increase its biodiversity. Despite the effort of the community, Taylor Wimpey proposed to de-register the Village Green status to proceed with development. Unfortunately, this put the community efforts at risk although the love for the land remained. When Taylor Wimpy took away the permission for their mowing of the Local Wildlife Site, it prevented the conservation management of the community and had a detrimental effect on the biodiversity. It was clear that Taylor Wimpy’s plans would lead to the decline of biodiversity, as they mentioned during the Public Inquiry. For the past two years, ELF has provided ongoing support to the local community with help in their fight for preservation. It is clear that the community has been tireless in their efforts to protect the site, and it is this work that continues to keep it safe.

Another case that well illustrates the care and stewardship that local people undertake to protect the land that they love and cherish is that of long-time campaigner, Klaus Armstrong Braun. ELF has been assisting Klaus for many years, but in this instance have been assisting him with the preservation of biodiversity at the biggest lake in Flintshire, Wales. A large tourist development, Park in the Past has seen a degradation of a designated conservation zone next to the lake, and through a lack of enforcement by the local authority, the gradual decline in wildfowl numbers for which the lake is known and documented. Though Klaus is now in his 80s his tireless determination to be a voice for the nature he loves is one that ELF celebrates.

Developing a Rights of River Charter 

Most recently. ELF’s Emma Montlake and Tom Brenan, alongside Green Party Cllr. Matthew Bird joined forces to develop a groundbreaking Rights of River charter – and their efforts paid off. The motion was overwhelmingly backed by locals, with the Love Our Ouse festival galvanizing a mass of public support. Now, this charter will safeguard the Ouse’s ecology and biodiversity, while also preserving its beauty and longevity for generations to come. 

The Core of Stewardship 

All of these cases illustrate stewardship and a community prepared to speak up, take risks and be accountable. Whilst the global Rights of Nature movement hones in on indigenous peoples and their relationship with nature, we think that there are similar relationships to be found in those that ELF assists, through their care, commitment and willingness to be a voice for nature. While these cases do not fall within the purview of the Rights of Nature, they all share a similar core. The local community is typically the most successful steward of their environment due to the strength of collective involvement.

Participating in the Fight 

Individuals and communities can help champion the Rights of Nature by raising public awareness of the issue and educating people about the importance of protecting local nature reserves. Working together and dedicating themselves to this task can bring about meaningful change to the narrative around climate change. We urge everyone to play a part in protecting their local habitats, not just for themselves but also for coming generations.

There are several ways that you can participate in the fight to protect nature’s rights:

  • Follow our InstagramTwitter and LinkedIn posts to stay up to date with the Rights of Nature, grassroots community activism and changes in environmental law and policy as and when they happen. 
  • Show your support for organisations such as ELF working to protect the natural world, assisting those communities and stewards who come to us seeking assistance. As a charity, we rely on the generous donations of our members. 
  • Contact your local MP and politicians/councils when you see an environmental issue that you care about and make your voice heard.
  • Get involved in your local community groups and pay attention to your local environmental issues. Work collectively to bring about change. 
  • Learn more about the Rights of Nature and why it is so important to remain engaged in this kind of activism and educate those around you about its importance.
  • Join a conservation or restoration project in your local area and get down to the groundwork of protecting nature and ecosystems. A small change can create big results
  • Speak out on social media and online platforms. This helps boosts the issue’s reach and presence.

Taking Action for Change

We urge everyone to play a part in protecting their local habitats, not just for themselves but also for coming generations. Collectively, we can work together to create meaningful change and ensure that the Rights of Nature are upheld and respected. We hope we have given you the tools and knowledge to get involved and continue the fight for preservation and sustainability.